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« September 2020 | Main

October 19, 2020

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #326: Fire Matt Nagy

If his title was offensive coordinator, that's exactly what everyone would be saying right now. Plus: Stop Lying, Rick Hahn; A Just World Series; Sick Saad World; and Chicago Fire Locking It Down!

Beachwood Radio Network · The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #326: FIre Matt Nagy

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SHOW NOTES

* 326.

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3:29: Tripling Down On How Bad This Bears Team Is.

* Coffman: "Just ridiculous stuff out there."

* Dickerson: "The Chicago Bears need to be taken seriously.

"Look, Chicago has flaws - plenty of them. The overall offense, not good enough. The rushing offense, not nearly good enough. The offensive line, yikes. The quarterback play, inconsistent.

"What cannot be disputed is the club's record after six games. Following Sunday's 23-16 victory over the Carolina Panthers, the Bears are 5-1 for the first time since former coach Lovie Smith's final season in 2012.

"Entering this season, there were 102 teams that started 5-1 since the NFL went to 12 playoff teams in 1990, and 85 went on to make the playoffs (83.3%), according to ESPN Stats & Information.

"Ironically, the Bears ended up missing the playoffs despite their hot start in 2012, but the NFL expanded the playoff field to 14 teams for 2020."

* Biggs: "The Chicago Bears are in 1st place despite almost no help from the offense. Matt Nagy still is trying to figure out the 'why' part, and this will be a flawed team until he does.

"Matt Nagy made a rare appeal to respect what the Chicago Bears defense has done. Pity he can't call a game to do that as his offense continues to struggle . . .

"The first play was puzzling as Nick Foles threw to tight end Jimmy Graham, who doesn't run well, in the flat. Predictably, he didn't get far on a 1-yard gain. David Montgomery gained 2 yards on second down, and then chaos ensued.

"Nagy wound up calling a timeout to sort out what they wanted to do, and the Bears went from that to a delay-of-game penalty"

* Nick Foles:

Screen Shot 2020-10-19 at 3.13.39 PM.png

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40:00: Stop Lying, Rick Hahn.

* Like his boys, Rickey Renteria does not quit. He was fired.

* Wallenstein: Neither La Russa Nor Hinch.

* 100 People Who Would Be A Better Choice Than Tony La Russa To Manage The White Sox.

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48:08: A Just World Series.

* A rarity: the two teams with most regular season wins make it to the finals.

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55:18: Sick Saad World.

* Much ado about Brandon.

* Lazerus: Is Corey Crawford The Best Goaltender In Blackhawks History?

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101:58: Chicago Fire Locking It Down!

* About as good as the Bears, with similar playoff chances.

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STOPPAGE: 4:29

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For archives and other Beachwood shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:40 PM | Permalink

Neither La Russa Nor Hinch

The news that the White Sox are considering Tony La Russa for their vacant manager's position resulted in near panic last week from some Sox fans and writers. You'd have thought that the ballclub was doing something as dangerous as holding a public rally at The Grate so kids could run the bases sans masks or social distancing.

The responses came quickly. "He's too old. He hasn't managed since 2011. He wouldn't be able to relate to the players. He couldn't work well with the front office. I repeat, he's too old."

These are challenging times for all of us, but especially for folks who were born in the 1940s, of which La Russa and this writer are guilty. People who know about deadly viruses have warned us for months that we are most susceptible to COVID-19. Much about our lives has changed. Like our vocabulary. Words such as "morbidity" have entered into daily conversation right alongside launch angle and exit velocity.

Suggestions are not uncommon that our perceived frail condition dictates that we are expendable. A few particularly uncaring, heartless and ignorant individuals have reasoned that older folks, being closer to our demise than the general population, should not prohibit others from pursuing their regular routines.

If you're thinking that I'm sensitive to the ageism slur, then we're on the same page. Substitute "Black" or "Brown" or "gay" rather than "old" into the equation and you'd rightfully be confronted with anger and outrage along with a tidy lawsuit.

La Russa turned 76 earlier this month, but I hate to imagine the fate of someone telling him to his face that he's too old to do, well, just about anything.

Buzz Bissinger's 3 Nights in August provided an in-depth journey into La Russa's psyche, principles and intelligence for managing a major league baseball team. Here a quote from him at the book's beginning:
"I'm as nauseous as I've ever been. I have a terrible headache. My head is pounding.
I feel like throwing up and I'm having trouble swallowing. And the beauty of it is, you
want to feel like this every day."

My guess is that a few years haven't diminished La Russa's edginess and intensity when it comes to winning ballgames, something he did with regularity in a 33-year Hall of Fame career that included six pennants and three World Series titles. Only Connie Mack and John McGraw won more games as a manager.

General Manager Rick Hahn said last week that he's looking for someone outside the organization who has had October experience and has been successful. La Russa was canned by Hawk Harrelson, who was masquerading as Sox GM, mid-season 1986. I believe enough time has passed to say that La Russa is an outsider, and his record clearly meets the October criterion.

As far as relating to players, I'd say that La Russa would have instant credibility and respect the very first day he strolled into the clubhouse. He was known for retaliating any time he felt that his players were being abused. If he concluded that other clubs were throwing at his hitters, the foes were assured to be brushed back or worse next time through the batting order. His players appreciated that old-school support even though critics questioned his approach. He had no problem being described as a dinosaur.

La Russa's style would not be warm and fuzzy like, say, Dusty Baker last week giving out hugs to José Altuve after the second baseman made a couple of errors. His charges would know the expectations and the consequences of less than a full effort. He's more like a Bill Belichick, whose teams have played in nine Super Bowls and won six of them. Belichick is eight years La Russa's junior. His demarcation between player and coach is clear to everyone. Sharing a beer is not part of Belichick's repertoire.

As far as analytics are concerned, La Russa's handling of his bullpen led the evolution of the game in utilizing relievers' specific roles. He also has served time in the front offices of the Diamondbacks and Angels since retiring, so he hasn't strayed too far from contemporary practices.

Despite everything you've read so far, I hope the Sox don't hire him, nor do I think they will. I suspect that La Russa would do just fine as the new Sox skipper, but I also feel that Hahn could do better by hiring Sandy Alomar, Jr.

Alomar has the experience and background to handle the job. His pedigree is sound, being the son of Sandy Alomar Sr., a 15-year major league infielder who played for the Sox from 1967-69. His brother Roberto is a Hall of Fame second baseman. Sandy Jr. signed his first professional contract in 1983. That's 37 years in the game. Did someone mention baseball lifer?

A former catcher - nine managers at the beginning of this season played the position - Alomar spent 20 seasons in the big leagues, including parts of five with the White Sox, the last of which was 2006, which I would assume makes him "outsider" enough. The year after retiring, 2008, he went straight into coaching with the Mets, and two years later, Alomar joined the Indians' staff and has been there ever since.

While Alomar never has been hired as a major league manager - in the past he was on the short list for the Blue Jay, the Red Sox and the Cubs - he took over for the ailing Terry Francona this season and led the Indians to a 28-18 record and a spot in the playoffs, where the Yankees eliminated them in the wild card series.

Us Sox fans would like to forget the four-game sweep in Cleveland in September when Alomar was guiding the Indians. Two of those wins for Alomar were in walk-off fashion. Alomar's club finished the year 9-2 to solidify its spot in the post-season.

Being Puerto Rican, the language barrier with the Sox's many Latin players wouldn't exist.
Never having been hired to manage a team, in my mind, would make Alomar extremely hungry for success in his first assignment at age 54. There are no laurels upon which to sit. Factors dictate that he would work as hard and diligently - quite possibly harder - as any other candidate to prove himself.

Nevertheless, I doubt that Hahn will choose Alomar. The frontrunner is deposed Houston Astro manager A.J. Hinch.

After stumbling mightily in his first assignment with the Diamondbacks in 2009-10 - his team's record was 89-123 - Hinch stepped into the role with the Astros in 2015 as the club was on the cusp of dominance, much like the White Sox of today. Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer, Lance McCullers Jr. and Dallas Keuchel were in place, and once the pitchers got a bit more help, the Astros reeled off three straight 100-plus win seasons from 2017-19.

Of course, the only hitch was stealing the Dodgers' signs in the 2017 World Series, resulting in Hinch's one-year suspension that ends at the conclusion of this week's World Series. While Hinch reportedly smashed a couple of monitors used in the scheme, he lacked the strength and principle to extinguish the cheating. The buck should have stopped with him, but it slithered through.

At the same time, Hinch checks most of Hahn's boxes. He's an outsider, he's won lots of games, and he's been to a World Series.

But he's tainted, and my capacity for liars, cheaters, con men and shysters was reached long ago. Not a day goes by when we're not besieged with misinformation and lies emanating from our supreme leader and his enablers. While the stakes pale in comparison to what's happening in the world, why should I applaud the hiring of someone who was the leader of a bunch of underhanded cheaters whose raw talent wasn't enough of an edge?

I hope that Hahn understands the broader picture. I fear that he doesn't. Or that he doesn't care.

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Former Bill Veeck bar buddy Roger Wallenstein is our White Sox correspondent. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:13 PM | Permalink

October 16, 2020

Tupperware In Space

Tupperware announced Thursday the issuance of a U.S. patent for PONDS (Passive Orbital Nutrient Delivery System), a unique device designed to grow vegetables in low earth orbit with minimal maintenance.

"We are proud to have received a patent for the unique and novel design of PONDS," said Miguel Fernandez, Chief Executive Officer of Tupperware Brands. "With this patent in hand and with the work of our teams on this project, we are now exploring ways to capitalize on the science behind this innovation and use that knowledge to enable consumers around the world to reduce their impact of single-use plastic and food waste through the use of our environmentally responsible products."

Screen Shot 2020-10-16 at 7.32.50 PM.pngAnna Nguyen

In 2015, a team at NASA's Kennedy Space Center led by Howard Levine began developing PONDS to expand the capabilities of NASA's Vegetable Production System (Veggie) on the International Space Station so astronauts could grow larger, more complex plants in Veggie, while also reducing the amount of time spent watering and maintaining the plants.

Tupperware joined the project in 2017 to improve upon a prototype PONDS design by applying engineering and physical science knowledge to create a passive way to deliver water and nutrients to plant in a low gravity environment.

Developed in partnership with Techshot, an in-space research and manufacturing company, PONDS is a result of optimizing the technology for microgravity to create a zero-powered, passively maintained system to grow vegetables with increased water requirements in space.

The patented design focuses on a unique creative scientific challenge - watering plants in the absence of gravity. As such, Tupperware took inspiration from the natural way plants absorb water through capillary action. The function requires astronauts to insert a small water-filled syringe into the base of the system and then a combination of wettable materials, capillary action, and interior geometry manage and distribute water to the seedling while establishing roots in nutrient-enhanced claylike material. The device is designed with water storage properties that ensure appropriate water flow to the plant without obstruction of vents during tank filling.

"This recognition is an emblem of the innovation that this brand has represented for nearly 75 years," said David Kusuma, Vice President of Product Development and R&D at Tupperware Brands. "We chose this project because we are confident we can use this understanding and technology for the future development of Tupperware products."

PONDS first launched into space on CRS-14, SpaceX's 14th contracted cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station for NASA on April 2, 2018 under the Commercial Resupply Services contract. PONDS hardware returned to the space station on the CRS-11 launch on April 17, 2019 and the CRS-20 launch on March 6, 2020. Tupperware and NASA are planning for a fourth trip in 2021.

Tupperware has won nearly 300 design awards from across the world, including awards from German Design Council, The Chicago Athenaeum and Industrie Forum Design and its original products have been featured in MoMA's famed Good Design Exhibit. Last year, Tupperware received two honorable mentions from Fast Company Innovation by Design Awards for Design Company of the Year and Best Design in North America for the PONDS system.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:17 PM | Permalink

MLB's First Commissioner Was A Racist Enabled By White Sportswriters

The Baseball Writers' Association of America recently announced that it would remove former Major League Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis's name from the plaques awarded to the American and National League MVPs.

The decision came after a number of former MVPs, including Black award winners Barry Larkin and Terry Pendleton, voiced their displeasure with their plaques being named for Landis, who kept the game segregated during the 24 years he served as commissioner from 1920 until his death in 1944. The Brooklyn Dodgers ended the color line when they signed Jackie Robinson to a contract in October 1945, less than a year after Landis's death.

Screen Shot 2020-10-16 at 8.18.46 AM.pngThe award - and plaque - will no longer feature Landis's name/MLB Photos via Getty

Landis has had his defenders over the years. In the past, essayist David Kaiser, baseball historian Norman Macht, Landis biographer David Pietrusza and the commissioner's nephew, Lincoln Landis, have claimed that there is no evidence that Landis said or did anything racist.

But in my view, it's what he didn't say and didn't do that made him a racist.

In my book Conspiracy of Silence: Sportswriters and the Long Campaign to Desegregate Baseball, I argue that baseball's color line existed as long as it did because the nation's white mainstream sportswriters remained silent about it, even as Black and progressive activists campaigned for integration.

But those who ran the league possessed far more power than sportswriters. Landis, along with the owners, knew that there were Black players good enough to play in the big leagues. If he had wanted to integrate Major League Baseball, he could have.

Instead, he did all he could to prevent the rest of America from knowing just how talented Black baseball players were.

Gentlemen's Agreement

By the time Landis became commissioner in 1920, baseball had been segregated for decades through a so-called "gentlemen's agreement" by team owners in the 1880s.

However, it was common practice in the 1920s for Major League teams to earn extra money in the offseason by playing Black teams in exhibition games. Landis put a halt to these games because he wanted to end the embarrassment of the Black teams winning so often.

It is worth noting that Black athletes competed with whites in other sports in the 1920s and 1930s, including boxing, college tennis, college football and, for several years, the National Football League. Black athletes also represented the United States in the Olympics.

During the 1930s, Black sportswriters like Wendell Smith and Sam Lacy, along with white sportswriters for the Communist newspaper The Daily Worker, intensely campaigned for the integration of baseball.

Screen Shot 2020-10-16 at 8.03.03 AM.pngThe Chicago Defender's Sam Lacy, the first Black inducted into the Baseball Writers' Association of America/Afro American Newspapers, Gado via Getty

In their editorials and articles, Worker sportswriters chronicled the accomplishments of Negro League stars and told readers that struggling Major League teams could improve their chances by signing Black players. Meanwhile, Communist activists organized protests and circulated petition drives outside the ballparks of New York's three Major League teams - the Yankees, Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers - demanding that teams sign Black players.

The petitions, which had, according to one estimate, a million signatures were then sent off to the commissioner's office. They were ignored.

The Daily Worker regularly focused on Landis as the person responsible for the color line, while the Black press derisively called him "the Great White Father."

Silencing Dissent

Landis's defenders say that he could not possibly have been a bigot because he suspended Yankees outfielder Jake Powell for making a racist comment during a 1938 radio interview.

Landis suspended Powell not because the ballplayer used a slur, but because it was heard by audiences, and Black activists pressured the commissioner to do something. While Landis ended up punishing a racist player, he did nothing to end racial discrimination against black players.

Landis demonstrated there could be no contrary views to the commissioner's position on segregation. When Brooklyn manager Leo Durocher was quoted in a 1942 Daily Worker article saying he would sign Black players if he were allowed to, Landis ordered Durocher to deny that he made the statement.

Screen Shot 2020-10-16 at 7.42.51 AM.pngLandis at the 1926 dedication of the clock tower at Wrigley Field/APA via Getty

The following year, Landis again subverted the campaign to end segregation in the sport. Lacy, who was then working for the Chicago Defender, repeatedly asked Landis for a meeting to talk about the color line. When Landis finally agreed, Lacy asked the commissioner if he could make the case for integration at baseball's annual meeting.

Landis, without telling Lacy, invited the Negro Newspaper Publishers Association. Also invited to speak was Paul Robeson, the onetime college football star who had become an actor, singer, writer - and avowed Communist. Lacy was incensed that Robeson would be asked to address conservative white owners about the sensitive issue of integration.

To Lacy, the presence of Robeson meant that Landis could plant seeds of suspicion with white owners and sportswriters that the campaign to integrate baseball was a Communist front.

Lacy wrote in a column that Landis reminded him of a cartoon he had seen of a man extending his right hand in a gesture of friendship while clenching a long knife that was hidden in his left hand.

Landis died in December 1944, and Lacy finally got a chance to address team executives the following March. Brooklyn Dodgers executive Branch Rickey ended up signing Jackie Robinson to a contract several months later, thus ending segregation in baseball.

Rickey's biographer Lee Lowenfish was convinced that, if alive, Landis would have tried to stop the Robinson signing.

I believe it is no coincidence that baseball remained segregated during Landis's reign as commissioner - or that it became integrated only after he died.

Chris Lamb is a journalism professor at IUPUI. This post is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:38 AM | Permalink

October 15, 2020

The Clever Reason He Wants Matt Nagy To Use The Hurry-Up Offense

It's amazing how different the television-watching experience is for various sports.

I will theorize that Bears coach Matt Nagy should actually take into account the nature of television coverage in the course of a game. What a pioneer he would be! Yeah, right.

In major team sports, NHL hockey is the best. I believe the game is stopped only about twice per period and the intermissions are great. You can't stop the game when the Patrick Kane line has one leg over the boards for a shift change.

I've always enjoyed watching professional bowling. These guys miss pins too, and they show whole games at a time. The current juggernaut is the Australian Jason Belmonte, a right-hander who doesn't use the finger holes. The five-time bowler of the year is clutch. Different from the days of Chris Schenkel and Nelson Burton Jr., Earl Anthony and Johnny Petraglia when the gallery behind them was as quiet as a funeral, now they have a few dozen fans on the side of the left lane who constantly scream and never shut up. If Tiger Woods were a bowler, he'd stick his head in the ball return and wait for the next one up the chute to put him out of his misery. If the bowlers don't mind those fans, neither do I, but the pandemic has thankfully removed them.

Of course, horse racing is the greatest. Unlike the gibberish of a quarterback going vertical - isn't that "up?" - or a guy being good "in space," (duh, he's in the open field), the racing lingo is as traditional as ever. Why change such finely honed language? Sure, there are plenty of commercials between races, but a lot of them advertise breeding services for horses we know and remember fondly. Plus, you use that down time to handicap. Constant engagement.

I watch no baseball, maybe five innings this whole season.

With the ponies in the pre-Breeders' Cup October doldrums, I've actually watched more Bears football this year than the last four combined. I even bet on the first two games and won money.

Couple years ago, I made and fulfilled my vow to watch no NFL football (I can't rationalize the college football sewer). My gut feeling was that spending so much time watching Mitch Trubisky was just such a waste. And there are way too many resources of all kinds devoted to the insidious league.

After watching the Bears beat Tampa Bay last week, I realized something was different. With the nonstop blabbering from long-in-the-tooth Bucky and Aiks, who's never seen a quarterback as good as he was, and ALL OF THE COMMERCIALS - even split screen! - I was able to detect a game in there somewhere.

With the stars of the Beachwood Radio Sports Hour calling for the Bears to run the hurry-up offense, I wondered how The Monsters can keep up a tempo with all the commercials. So I conducted my own bitch session at the water cooler near the sports desk:

It's UNWATCHABLE!! There are commercials every 90 seconds, real time, not game time. There is NO football action. They used to say 60 minutes, 11 minutes of actual football. But the ratio of actual football to the length of the telecast is as if they ran out of helium on Thanksgiving Day. Although the Rice Lake High School band is awesome.

Last Thursday, I got so pissed off, I went over to an episode of The Sopranos, watched the whole thing, and got back in plenty of time for the last-minute fireworks. I'm really sorry the NFL teams don't have fans in the stands, but, as usual, they're taking it out on the fans. They' have 99 seconds of football and then four minutes of commercials. And then, run split screen of commercials and the "game." I swear, I'm going to put a stopwatch to it.

Getting to your strategy, Nagy MUST consider the hurry offense. Not only because the Bears are more effective with it, but because the league and TV networks are, more than ever, I believe, affecting the outcomes of games. Nagy should absolutely force the action with a high tempo to minimize the stoppages. Yeah, RIGHT.

They run a four-play series. TV TIMEOUT if they get the first down or punt. There is no question that commercials are required in specific real-time intervals. It doesn't seem to have much to do with the flow of the game. The league is giving defenses a chance to rest. Seriously, I could only envision Foles and the guys twiddling their thumbs, cooling off, and the Bucs setting up.

Hey, NFL: Sacrifice, like the rest of us sonsabitches are doing. Let 'em play. They're turning and twisting fans like the key on a sardine can.

Or are they doing it only for the in-game betting? Hmmm! Conspiracy theory? The NFL is subterfuge.

Jim "Coach" Coffman disagreed. But I need to say my DVR is just about full, so I need efficiency, man, so I can watch some of those recorded shows. NFL football seems like such a slog.

But there is a solution. As Ralph Kramden pointed out, it will be just like saving four hours on the trip from Tibet to Mongolia.

Next game, I'm going to record and watch it at 1x fast forward and 3x fast forward through commercials. I've done that before. Game takes less than an hour. If the game gets out of hand either way, 4x. Great!

It will also give David Montgomery more speed than he'll ever have.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:47 PM | Permalink

October 14, 2020

100 People Who Would Be A Better Choice Than Tony La Russa To Manage The White Sox

1. Me.

2. Tamale Guy.

3. The real Chairman of the Board.

4. Dead Bob Rohrman.

5. That dude and his dad.

6. to 56. Every member of the Chicago City Council, including those currently under indictment and/or wearing a wire. We could call it the College of City Council Coaches.

57. Peter Francis Geraci.

58. Mr. Met.

59. That chick who was the Italian Sausage.

60. 42-year-old Tony La Russa.

61. Don Cooper.

62. Mr. Cooper.

63. Cecil Cooper.

64. Sarah Cooper.

65. D.B. Cooper

66. A pooper scooper.

67. Steve Albini.

68. Pete Rose.

69. Pete Buttigieg.

70. Joey "the Clown" Lombardo.

71. Chance the Snapper.

72. My mom.

73. to 78. The Jackson 5, dead and alive.

78. to 85. Larry King's ex-wives.

86. Cody Parkey.

87. Tommy La Stella.

88. Robert La Follette.

89. Fiorello La Guardia.

90. Man of La Mancha.

91. to 92. Andrea and Averie.

93. The manager of the Whooping Scalpers.

94. Merv Griffin.

95. Ken Griffin.

96. Ken Howard.

97. Jerome Horwitz.

98. to 100. Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:53 AM | Permalink

A To B To C With The Reinsdorfs

When Jerry Reinsdorf fired Doug Collins as the Bulls' head coach July 1989, the first thing he didn't do was make the ludicrous assertion that the decision was mutual. It obviously wasn't, just like it was obvious that Rickey Renteria didn't decide not to manage the potential World Series co-favorite White Sox in 2021.

So, Rick Hahn, next time maybe be an adult instead of starting one of the your most important missives to your fan base with an obvious lie. You may have made the three remarkable trades that are the centerpiece of this so far highly successful rebuild, but White Sox fans also remember your nightmarishly bad trading away of then-prospect now-superstar Fernando Tatis, Jr. for way-over-the-hill James Shields.

There was also the giving away of 2019 MVP candidate Marcus Semien, the giving away of 2020 stellar starting pitcher Chris Bassitt (5-2, 2.29 ERA), the refusal to pay the price for a decent third starter what, a month-and-a-half ago and . . . I've made my point, haven't I? You don't have as much goodwill with us as you seem to think - certainly not enough to lie your way through a managerial change for a team on the cusp of greatness.

The most vocal (at least on social media) fans turned against Renteria in the last two seasons. They can turn on you as well, Rick - especially if they conclude they are being played for fools.

The key with the Collins firing was that the Bulls weren't just certain they were in position to quickly hire his successor, but were also in position to hang on to two basketball innovators, Johnny Bach and Tex Winter, as assistants to make up for Phil Jackson's lack of major head coaching experience.

So if the White Sox step right up and hire A.J. Hinch or Alex Cora, the managers of the 2017 Astros world champs and the 2018 Red Sox world champs respectively, the Renteria dismissal makes obvious sense. Hinch and Cora may be cheaters but they have at least paid a debt to baseball (a season-long suspension), and they have shown they know how to bring home the big trophy.

It is impossible to feel the same way about the potential hiring of 76-year-old Tony La Russa, who will have gone a decade without managing a major league team when 2021 arrives. The White Sox will set themselves up as a target of league-wide ridicule if they hire LaRussa.

But Reinsdorf might just insist on it anyway. The White Sox don't have Reinsdorf's son Michael arguing against La Russa like Michael almost certainly argued against keeping Jim Boylen.

When the Bulls hesitated, and hesitated, and hesitated some more before finally firing the obviously overmatched Boylen as their head coach late in the summer, you had the feeling it was Jerry Reinsdorf who was fighting the move.

Part of it was that the owner has never made a habit of firing guys with multiple years left on their contracts (Boylen had two years left). But part of it was that Reinsdorf was not convinced the Boylen had had a fair chance to show what he could do.

Fortunately the change was made and the Bulls lucked into Billy Donovan (I'm not sure if someone with good sources has reported it as such but there is no way the Bulls had any idea Donovan would be available when they launched Boylen). And even as happy as the Bulls are to get Donovan, he never has taken an NBA team to a Finals, let alone a championship.

So Billy just remember, there is no doubt that you are seen as the coach to get the Bulls from A (terrible) to B (not terrible but not a contender for a championship). With a Reinsdorf in charge there are no promises of even getting a chance to be there for B to C.

Just ask Doug Collins. Or Rickey Renteria.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:34 AM | Permalink

October 13, 2020

The [Tuesday] Papers

I should be done with census work in another week. Until then, this space may not budge.

Thread. Start here.

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Programming Note
The census is winding down, though not in a way that would violate the court order extending us back to October 31st, which specifically orders us not to "wind down." I am only using that phrase colloquially! Quite simply, work in my zone has dried up because we've run out of addresses to "resolve." That's census jargon for determining the status of address - does it exist, and if so, did it exist on April 1, and if so how many people lived there then. We'll see what the remainder of this week has in store. There might be some "clean-up work" available.

P.S.: Who wants to buy the magazine article/longform post?

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New on the Beachwood . . .

Social Media Platforms Remove War Crimes Evidence
"In letters to Facebook, Twitter, and Google sent in May 2020, Human Rights Watch shared the links to this content that had been taken down and asked the companies if Human Rights Watch could regain access for archival purposes, a request which was not granted."

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School Of Rock Finally Realizes How White It Is
"[U]tilizing the collective knowledge of the talented instructors across the School of Rock system, the company has published on its website a series of articles and interactive content on the historical contribution of Black artists to Rock and Roll. Early Rock artists featured include Etta James, Ray Charles, and Sister Rosetta Tharpe, in addition to more recent innovators like Prince, Tracy Chapman, and Gary Clark, Jr."

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Lame.

For example, I love Tracy Chapman's 32-year-old debut record, but she's hardly an innovator.

Just discover Prince?

Just embarrassing.

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Let's face it, the School of Rock should have started out all black and had white artists added to teach the true evolution of the form. After all, it's a school.

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(Prosthetic) Penises Suddenly Everywhere
Male nudity explodes on TV and film, but most of it isn't real.

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Maps For Migrants And Ghosts
"For immigrants and migrants, the wounds of colonization, displacement, and exile remain unhealed. Even our most personal and intimate experiences are linked to the larger collective histories that came before."

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Philosophizing At UIC
Department chair tells us why it's so weird.

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From the Beachwood Sports Desk . . .

Rickey Rentamanager's Lease Not Renewed
Evicted, in fact, no matter what the landlord says.

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The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #325: Bears In Never-Never Land
Enter Metallica.

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The St. Louis Flat-Earthers
It's Ronald McDonald With The Big Red Shoes meets Holocaust Denial.

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Cinderella On Steroids
An unorthodox manager, little-known players, a small payroll, not a whole lot of home runs, and just three wins away from the World Series.

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Joliet's Route 66 Raceway Left Off NHRA's 2021 Drag Racing Schedule
In the NHRA's 70th-anniversary year.

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ChicagoReddit

is the city still summoning people in for jury duty since covid? from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

"Chicago" / Squirrel Flower

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BeachBook

19 Lies Your Mechanic Is Telling You.

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Pippi And The Moomins Were Antifa.

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'They Called Her A Crazy Witch' | Did Hilma af Klint Invent Abstract Art?

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The Company That Has A Monopoly On Ice Cream Truck Music.

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Kellogg's Trials Cereal Boxes Designed For The Blind That Raises The Bar For Inclusive Packaging.

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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Everyone just stop lying, please. Stop.

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Of course, if we were a society that valued the truth, lies would be few. But we're not. Our whole structure is built on deceit - economic and otherwise. It's the foundation of our institutions - particularly those that most proclaim otherwise. And now those institutions are crumbling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Unflammable.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:04 AM | Permalink

Rickey Rentamanager's Lease Not Renewed

Let's face it: "Agree" had nothing to do with it.

Like his boys, Rickey Renteria does not quit. He was fired. By Rick Hahn. Don't let the screen door hit you in your analytics-adverse ass on the way out.

While Hahn was content - even pleased - having Renteria guide a losing, rebuilding ballclub, the situation has changed markedly, thanks in part to Renteria. This is a contending team now, but Hahn had soured on what Renteria was selling.

When the announcement was made late Monday morning, reactions like "shocking" and "stunning" quickly appeared on social media. Not because many folks thought Renteria deserved to keep his job, but because Jerry Reinsdorf rarely lets merit get in the way of loyalty.

This move, like the firing of John Paxson over at Jerry's Bulls, marked a shift. Suddenly, the best interest of the team is in. And to Hahn, the best interest was obvious - and a longer time coming than some of us supposed.

"Over time, through very candid and, quite frankly, personal conversations about where this organization is, what our time horizon is, what we need to do to win in October and get to that final, ultimate goal, it became evident that it was time to make a change," Hahn said Monday. "This is a conversation that's been going on for a while."

We'll never know for sure, but we can assume that the general manager and field manager conferred daily about team development and strategy. Perhaps that's where the ongoing conversation occurred.

When the stakes were less intense, say, when the dialogue was focused on whether to play Omar Narvaez or Kevan Smith behind the plate, disagreements weren't such a big deal. However, once those guys morphed into Yasmani Grandal and James McCann, the plot thickened by feet rather than inches.

Even though the team was 34-18 back on Sept. 19, Hahn was well aware that Detroit, Kansas City and Pittsburgh had bowed to his club 21 times in 24 games, meaning that the Sox were 13-15 against everyone else. If the GM was having reservations about Renteria's handling of the bullpen or his lineup card, it was likely compounded by team's struggles against the kind of company they were now trying to keep.

That means stepping up to "the next level," a phrase sports executives and pundits love to bandie about. If that means competing against the elite teams, you have no better example than the Chicago White Sox of 2020. Four straight losses in Cleveland in which Renteria's bullpen strategy came under fire, and the final elimination game in Oakland in the playoffs may not have been the entire reason for Hahn's decision, but they very well may have provided confirmation that Renteria had to go.

Reinsdorf is no stranger to this "next level" narrative. His Bulls practically invented it when they axed Doug Collins after three seasons in which the team consistently improved, posting a 127-67 record Collins' final two seasons. Phil Jackson famously came next and we all know how that turned out.

Meanwhile, pitching coach Don Cooper, who rose to his position 18 years ago, also was let go, which was no surprise. Forget about loyalty. Hahn pointed out that from a tenure standpoint, Cooper led the Sox pitchers for almost 10 more years than any other pitching coach in the major leagues. The team is steeped in young arms, which just might benefit from new approaches and a different voice, despite appreciations like this one voiced by Lucas Giolito's father:

Nevertheless, when Giolito turned around his career after a horrible 2018 season, much of the credit went to his high school pitching coach Ethan Katz, with whom Giolito worked with over that winter. Cooper's name never was mentioned. (We also should note that Katz currently is the assistant pitching coach with the Giants.)

Arguably the greatest pitching coach ever was Johnny Sain, who mentored Sox pitchers in 1971-75. Sain wanted total control over his hurlers, hence he worked for six different teams in 18 years. In the 1960s, five of the teams he worked for won pennants. He didn't last anywhere close to the time Cooper spent with the Sox.

Cooper's greatest moment was the 2005 World Series, when all four Sox starters went seven innings in the sweep of the Astros. That was a while ago. Time for a change.

So now the search for successors commences. Hahn said he wants a skipper with October experience from a winning organization. Ahh, Rick, you don't have to look too far. A.J. Hinch and Alex Cora, who have watched from the sidelines this season after being suspended in the Astros' cheating scandal, both fit the description. Hahn's wish list sounded a lot like the resumés of the former managers of the Astros and Red Sox, respectively.

It does not fit the (recent) resumé of one Ozzie Guillen, whom, Hahn disclosed, Reinsdorf called to say he would not get an interview. The organization clearly wanted to head off another round of White Sox Twitter lobbying for their old favorite - nor did they want to endure Guillen campaigning for the job even harder than he had already been doing before it was even available. Having Guillen's personality back in the clubhouse no doubt would have been entertaining, but the game has moved on, and it's time for the team to do so as well.

That also goes for Bob Nightengale's "Believe It Or Not" report that Tony LaRussa might be a candidate. LaRussa remains close to The Chairman, but the prospect of the 76-year-old scourge back in a dugout in 2021 is laughable on its face.

Hahn's search won't last long. The World Series will end no later than October 28, freeing up any candidates currently preoccupied, if Hahn deems to lengthen his short list beyond the obvious aforementioned two. The job is attractive, as is any major league managing job, but particularly so with a young, talented group seemingly on the cusp of stardom. The new man won't have to suffer through the tribulations that Renteria assumed. We can thank Rickey for enduring all those stumbles, misplays and losses. The next guy can step into a shiny, modern vehicle, ready to roll.

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Former Bill Veeck bar buddy Roger Wallenstein is our White Sox correspondent. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:01 AM | Permalink

October 12, 2020

School Of Rock Finally Realizes How White It Is

School of Rock, the leader in performance-based music education, is enhancing its proprietary curriculum to feature more music created by Black artists. The goal is to further educate students on the Black community's history and central contributions to the development of Rock and Roll.

To start, School of Rock has added new feature shows to its performance-based curriculum. Each of these programs encompass 20-25 songs from Black artists. As part of the curriculum, students will learn to perform these songs and discover important lessons about the complex experience of marginalized communities. New shows include "Roots of the British Invasion," "The Music of Memphis," and "The Music of New Orleans."

"We teach musical proficiency through rock because contemporary songs offer an effective toolkit, particularly in group performance," said Rob Price, CEO of School of Rock. "Just as importantly, popular music opens a door to history. We have an obligation to honor those Black artists without whom there would be no Rock and Roll, and by extension no School of Rock."

Additionally, utilizing the collective knowledge of the talented instructors across the School of Rock system, the company has published on its website a series of articles and interactive content on the historical contribution of Black artists to Rock and Roll. Early Rock artists featured include Etta James, Ray Charles, and Sister Rosetta Tharpe, in addition to more recent innovators like Prince, Tracy Chapman, and Gary Clark, Jr.

"This project has been energizing, and it inspires us to better understand and teach the stories of other groups' contributions to the art form," said Price. "We also hope that by better understanding our musical past, we can contribute to a more harmonious future."

School of Rock provides students of all ages an exciting and engaging learning environment for taking guitar lessons, drum lessons, bass lessons, keyboard lessons, and singing lessons. Drawing from all styles of rock and roll, School of Rock students learn theory and techniques via songs from legendary artists such as Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Stevie Wonder and Frank Zappa. Thanks to the school's performance-based approach, students around the world have gained superior instrumental skills and confidence on the big stage, with some moving on to record deals and larger platforms such as American Idol, The Voice and Broadway.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:34 PM | Permalink

Philosophizing At UIC

One of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon is hashing out philosophical dilemmas. What makes a philosopher a good philosopher? Are there any quirks unique to the Windy City philosopher? Why bother with all the abstract questions philosophy offers? And lastly (though certain not least), what's the meaning of life? If anyone had any authority claims to make on answering these questions, I figured it would be David Hilbert, philosophy professor and department chair at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Hilbert hadn't always planned on being a philosopher.

"I got interested in philosophy in high school. I was kind of a nerdy, bio-oriented kid, and my parents got me a subscription to Scientific American, and in the back of the magazine was this column called 'Mathematical Games,' which was written by a man who actually had a Ph.D in philosophy.

"So it was mostly math, but every now and again he'd do some philosophy, and he would recommend books to read. I read some of the stuff he recommended and some of it was so hard, I couldn't understand. But the stuff that I understood was like - I was interested in science, but I was really more interested in thinking about science than doing it.

"So then I went off to college and I was going to be a doctor, so I was a pre-med. I was going to major in physics or chemistry or philosophy. And it turned out that the philosophy classes I took I just got more excited about, and also I did better, which also just makes it more fun.

"And by then I did all the pre-med stuff, and at the very end I went off and worked at a nursing home for the summer between the sophomore and junior year. I was like, 'I don't want to do what those guys are doing. I want to think about these big questions.' And so I went back and broke the news to my parents and went to my professors and said, 'Thanks so much for writing that med school letter, could you write me a different one now for philosophy graduate school?' And that's how it went!"

I was amazed by his story, but Hilbert told me that among philosophers who studied science-based questions, that sort of story was fairly common.

"You get interested in science first," he said, "and then you come to realize it's the big picture questions that drive you."

With philosophy's notorious reputation for its challenging, abstract questions, I was curious to know why Hilbert felt the field is still important to keep relevant.

"Many areas of human life - not just science, but even just going to the grocery store - raise these questions: What are we doing? Why are we doing it? Is it a good thing to do or is it a bad thing to do?

"And I think it's really helpful to - and people do this all the time, you don't need to be a philosopher to do this - to take a step back and think about the bigger picture of the world as you understand it, and your life as you're trying to live it.

"I think part of what philosophy does is give us the tools and ideas we can use to inform our own attempts at understanding the world and our lives from stepping back and the big-picture view . . . understanding is a good thing, and philosophers contribute to a kind of understanding that is connected to things that go on in almost everybody's life, but we pursue it a bit more relentlessly . . . the other thing, if you study philosophy, it places a premium on analytic skills and logical clarity, and I think those are useful tools no matter what you do in life."

I decided to switch gears to the hometown, so I asked next about what made UIC's philosophy department unique compared to other schools.

"The faculty are from all over the world," Hilbert said. There are only two people in the department who are from the area: Marya Schechtman (featured in my last column) from the city and himself from Northern Illinois.

"The job market is essentially the whole English-speaking world, and some parts of Europe," he said. "So it's hard to get a lot of local culture because philosophers go where the jobs are. The grad students are more likely to have a local connection."

He mentioned his having taught on both the East and the West Coasts, and how UIC students are "more curious, less sure they know every [answer] ahead of time."

He talked about how, in an effort to establish common ground with the locals, he tries to connect the course material to "corn fields, farms, and Lake Michigan."

It doesn't get more quintessentially Northern Illinois than that.

Hilbert also said that the student body at UIC offers more variety with their backgrounds, which "holds less true for the other places I taught."

Despite covering a wide range of topics, the UIC philosophy faculty is "unusually unified," he said. Despite the department's intellectual diversity, there is strong interaction between faculty members.

"I'm not sure undergraduates understand how weird a place UIC is. It's a research university . . . but it's teaching an incredibly diverse student body - diverse not [just] in terms [of] race and ethnicity but also economically.

"I taught at Princeton, Stanford, University of Chicago, Yale and CalTech. It's not that there are no poor kids at those schools . . . it's not that there's no diversity, but it's nothing like UIC.

"The combination of diversity at a research university is really unusual, and it makes the teaching way more interesting, and in some ways challenging, but also a lot more fun. That changes the way we think . . . that has an effect on not just how we teach but also how we think about philosophy."

Over a 30-odd year career, with areas focusing on visions, especially color vision, and 18th century philosopher Edmund Burke, Hilbert has noticed the field is opening up and engaging with issues that aren't solely entrenched in abstract ideas.

"I think that's a good thing and it's good for students, [which helps] to reach out and show people the value of philosophy."

If there's anything people want an answer to, it's "What's the meaning of life?" My interest, however, was in why people were so desperate to find meaning.

"To see there being some point as to what you're doing. That purpose doesn't have to come from outside us. Whenever we act, there's something we're trying to accomplish. I think we can set our goals ourselves."

Working towards those goals is what gives our lives meaning.

"The meaning I give my life are things I want to accomplish, but I don't always accomplish them," he said.

Regarding religion, despite not being religious himself, Hilbert said he is able to understand "a little bit."

"I do want to do the right thing. I want to be a good person. It's hard to think about how to be good . . . and you worry maybe I'm just fooling myself into thinking this is the right way to behave. So the idea that you can look to some authoritative guide, I can see how that could be appealing."

I couldn't conclude the interview before asking for advice. I inquired if it were possible to give a piece of advice that fit any person from any background.

"Step back, question your assumptions, approach without assuming everything you believe is right . . . go in[to] everything with a skeptical attitude . . . You can't live your whole life like that, but I think if people did more of that they would have better lives. It's so easy to go along, and say, 'I agree with that, I agree with that, I agree with that,' but sometimes you need to step back and ask, "Does this really make sense?' And that's at the heart of what philosophers do . . . One of my deeply held philosophical views is that everything is complicated."

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E.K. Mam is a second-year philosophy student at UIC and our budding philosophy correspondent. Her last post was Nihilism & Personal Identity. She welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:14 PM | Permalink

Maps For Migrants And Ghosts

"For immigrants and migrants, the wounds of colonization, displacement, and exile remain unhealed. Crossing oceans and generations, from her childhood home in Baguio City, the Philippines, to her immigrant home in Virginia, poet Luisa A. Igloria demonstrates how even our most personal and intimate experiences are linked to the larger collective histories that came before," SIU Press says.

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"In this poetry collection, Igloria brings together personal and family histories, ruminates on the waxing and waning of family fortunes, and reminds us how immigration necessitates and compels transformations. Simultaneously at home and displaced in two different worlds, the speaker lives in the past and the present, and the return to her origins is fraught with disappointment, familiarity, and alienation."

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See also:

* Baguio SunStar: City Honors Baguio Poet.

* Richmond Free Press: Personality: Dr. Luisa A. Igloria.

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And:

At the 23rd Annual Library of Virginia Literary Awards this week:

"Poetry panel, Wednesday: Luisa A. Igloria, Poet Laureate of Virginia, will moderate a conversation with Poetry Award finalists Lauren K. Alleyne, David Huddle and Benjamin Naka-Hasebe Kingsley."

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Labor Day reading.

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Letter to Love.

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New Moon.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:53 PM | Permalink

The St. Louis Flat-Earthers

It's a joke. Don't you get it? Humor. Droll satire by a prankster?

Let me make this as clear as I can. St. Louis pitcher and new Fox TV baseball analyst Adam Wainwright complained on air last Tuesday that he had spent 2020 trying to fight shortstop and teammate Paul DeJong's ignorance.

But it was a joke. Must have been.

Wainwright is a known provocateur and humorist with a straight face. We laugh. Ha!

According to Wainwright, DeJong and "Half the Cardinals are flat-Earthers" and also "There was no moonlanding" conspiracists. Flat-Earthers think the planet is a flat disc with massive walls of invisible ice, or cream cheese, around the edges. And the ringleader, he strongly implied, was DeJong whose playing performance metrics are not dissimilar to Cubs budding icon-in-training Javier Báez.

Multiple St. Louis sports bloggers were dubious of any DeJong involvement in what they generously though inaccurately called "pseudoscience."

DeJong's agent and business partner suggested it did not seem likely because DeJong is an Illinois State University graduate in biochemistry with a 3.74 GPA, and planned to attend medical school if baseball didn't work out.

He was proclaimed by Wainwright as "The smartest guy on the team."

DeJong's grandmother is a career chemist with Dow, for crying out loud. He's an amateur architect and avid science seeker.

If the flat-Earther story about DeJong is not just hilarious slander, it would be embarrassing on several counts because the Topps Baseball Card folks have teamed with DeJong to produce science videos with DeJong as the star.

It's a pandemic oasis for home-schooled scientific education. So he could not explain the rotation of a curveball in relation to the rotation of the Earth without announcing, "and by the way, kids, the Earth is not round. It's flat."

Won't do. TOPPS can't have a dumbass as an educational partner. Parents don't want conspiracy freakazoids teaching their kids.

But remember: It's just a joke. Or else several science professors at Illinois State would have to explain how they graduated a scientific dumbass.

Somebody who knows could say it was a joke. But nobody has. Not the Cardinals franchise. Not the Cardinals who Wainwright jabbed. Not Wainwright. And most thunderously loud in his silence, not DeJong.

Won't somebody speak up? Please. Anybody?

This "circumference of the Earth's globe" occasionally arises in college science classes - and junior high, too - so DeJong probably has heard about the 24,019-mile round Earth before. It's a lot farther if you have to drive over the Himalayas or through Nebraska.

However, science does not spend much time these days trying to disprove flat-Eartherism or show the sun's surface is hot. Or demonstrate gravity as if we didn't know it was real. Or reaffirm Copernicus or Galileo were right. Yes, the Earth spins as it rotates around the sun, not the other way around. Even the Catholic Church figured that out after 300 years of dumbassness, and let Galileo out of Hell.

We have math and visual observation and everything. DeJong could ask any pilot of a long-distance commercial flight to let him see the round horizon as they fly toward and then over it. No navigation is possible without accounting for the planet's roundness. Every pilot who has flown the circumference of our world has seen that. As has every mariner who left the beach and sailed over the curved horizon to invisibility.

For the record: No, sorry. Flat-Eartherism is not pseudo, conceptual, theoretical, or any other kind of science. It's wackadoodle nonsense. Flat-Earthers think Fred Flintstone was a documentary. It's Ronald McDonald With The Big Red Shoes meets Holocaust Denial.

NASA and spaceflight are not Saturday Night Live skits.

So it must be a funster, razzing escapade, or else thousands of Cardinals fans are rooting for scientific idiots.

But some fans are nervous. It's been a week after Wainwright's pronouncement during his stint in the Fox broadcast booth, and there has been no reporting from hometown journalists of record at the Post-Dispatch, to rectify the misunderstandings. Likewise, DeJong's agent suggested it was unlikely true, but that was not based on an actual conversation with DeJong.

But DeJong? Not a peep.

Wainwright? No comprende.

It's like Andy Kaufman doing a gig and all the Cardinals participating.

One generous theory behind the silence is that some ideas are so clearly preposterous that even denying them affords the stupidity inferential credibility.

DeJong and his teammates believing in flat-Eartherism is only slightly more preposterous than flat-Eartherism itself. So it can't be true, right?

For the record, aviator Wiley Post leaped past 2,000 years of science and simply flew around the world in 1933, though not to show it was round. Mostly to show that a pilot with one eye and a stout plane could do it. Didn't fall off the edge or crash into an invisible wall. Took him 7 days, 18 hours, and 49 minutes.

Amelia Earhart almost achieved the feat before she crashed into a Pacific island on her way home. But she didn't fall off the end of the world.

Hundreds of expeditions and thousands of fliers and sailors have done it. Magellan's fleet took three years and one month in 1522, but nobody tumbled into a cosmic abyss.

We are approaching 500 years of observable fact.

Nobody has fallen off the edge, if you exclude Flight 19.

You can prove the Earth is round with this experiment.

Here's a similar proof constructed just for dummies.

We have known this fact for 2,200 years.

But even fans should be suspicious of "He couldn't be that dumb, could he?" theorems. Scientific history is filled with brilliant people - gravity-finder Isaac Newton and oxygen-discoverer Joseph Priestly for example - who also believed totally dumb-ass ideas.

What, you might ask, should anyone care that a major league baseball player thinks such things?

It's fairly simple A fence bisects humanity. On one side are people who use logic, science and provable, replicated fact to shape their ideas about the world and their place in it; on the other side of the fence are dumbasses.

Dumbasses assert that you must respect their ideas as much as smart ideas. But you don't. That demand itself is a dumb-ass idea.

Stupidity is an immutable barrier to excellence, even for sports. Flat-Eartherism feels like a self-pronouncement of stupidity.

Plus, from a totally selfish point of view, you resent discovering that you've been rooting for dumbasses, even ones who can hit sliders and field short-hop grounders. Even ones who graduated from Antioch High, five miles from where you live.

Should you believe that athletes are heroes, then consider this: Heroes are not allowed to be dumbasses. Violates the entry code. No shirts, no shoes, no dumbasses allowed.

If they are talented sports dumbasses, that implies you must respect their minds as educated adults, too. Can't do that.

This likely is all irrelevant to the moment because it's finely wrought humor by Wainwright, who is known for cleverness. What a great kidder.

So it's a joke. We're sure.

Aren't we?

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David Rutter is the former publisher/editor of the Lake County News-Sun, and more importantly, the former author of the Beachwood's late, great "The Week In WTF" column. His most recent piece for us was Don't Blame Trubisky. Blame Bears' Schulz. You can also check him out at his Theeditor50's blog. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:16 PM | Permalink

Cinderella On Steroids

If your ball diamond thirst remained unquenched after both the White Sox and Cubs bowed out of post-season play, the Yankees-Rays' division series last week served as a primer for today's state of the game along with giving fans a fascinating baseball fix.

Similar to many stories, this one also begins with the money.

The Yankees possess great riches while the Rays cobbled together a bunch of unknowns, many of whom are paid the major league minimum. Tampa Bay still won 40 games this truncated season, second only to the Dodgers' 43.

According to Spotrac, the Yankee payroll is tops in the major leagues while the Rays are next to the bottom. Combine the paychecks of Yankee superstars Gerrit Cole and Giancarlo Stanton and you can almost cover the entire Tampa Bay team.

Last season, more than 41,000 tickets were sold for each game at Yankee Stadium. Despite the fact that almost 3 million people live in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater, less than 15,000 showed up for Rays' games in 2019 when the team won 96 games.

The Rays, formerly known as the Devil Rays, drew 2.5 million their first season in Tampa Bay in 1998. They haven't drawn two million since.

The Rays aren't so much small market as small revenue.

Therefore, the Rays are an endearing underdog that so many of us love. At the same time, had the Yankees provided Tampa Bay with their comeuppance, few would have labeled it much of an upset.

Which made it all the sweeter when Mike Brosseau, an undrafted 25-year-old minimum-salaried fellow from nearby Merrillville, Indiana lined an Aroldis Chapman fastball into the first row of the left field seats in Friday's deciding fifth contest. The shot was just one of six hits the entire game and came in the bottom of the eighth, propelling Tampa to a 2-1 win and a face-off with the Houston Astros in the ALCS.

All three runs Friday scored on solo homers, none of which traveled past the first row of the bleachers, a fact gone unreported by Statcast.

Before Brosseau's heroics, the teams tangled on Tuesday as the Rays won 7-5 to even the series at one. The game personified what baseball has become. Over three hours and 43 minutes and 328 pitches, 24 batters struck out - the Yankees whiffed an astounding 18 times. Pitchers issued 10 walks, of whom four scored, and five home runs accounted for all but two of the runs.

The game didn't lack for drama despite the carousel of strikeouts, walks and homers. Fielders were called upon to handle a minimum of chances, and the presence of bunts, hit-and-runs, and stolen bases was non-existent. By the way, when was the last time you heard someone mention situational hitting?

Stanton hit two homers on Tuesday, including a mammoth 458-foot shot that was headed for Naples. Whether that meant Florida or Italy wasn't clear, but the majestic drive counted the same as Brosseau's drive, which just cleared the left field wall.

For those of us who struggle to digest the analytics of the game, we should acknowledge that Friday's drama creates the possibility that any game can be as appealing and entertaining as contests from the past.

Tampa manager Kevin Cash created much of the intrigue Friday with his strategy of calling upon pitcher Tyler Glasnow on two days' rest after pitching five innings Tuesday, in which he threw 93 pitches. Knowing that Cole wasn't about to give up many runs, Cash figured that Glasnow could go once through the Yankee lineup before yielding to a parade of relievers who likewise would face nine hitters.

The scheme worked like a charm. Glasnow held the New Yorkers hitless before Nick Anderson, Pete Fairbanks and, finally, Diego Castillo followed. Aaron Judge nicked Anderson for an opposite field home run that barely cleared the right field fence at the 322-foot sign for New York's lone run. Yankee hitters never saw the same pitcher twice.

While the Yankees have well-known players like Cole, Stanton, Judge, DJ LeMahieu and others, I dare you to name three starting players in the Rays' lineup. Six of those on Friday were making the minimum major-league salary, or close to it, as recently as last season.

Players like Ji-Man Choi, the roly-poly first baseman with the Teddy Bear smile, had been bandied about before finding a home in Tampa two years ago. Yandy Diaz, Friday's DH, came over from Cleveland in 2019, while Mike Zunino, a superb defensive catcher with a career .207 batting average but 95 home runs, joined the Rays last season after six years in Seattle.

Centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier, another outstanding defender who doesn't hit much, makes $10 million for a full season. Kiermaier is homegrown, having been a 31st-round draft pick who now is in his eighth season with the Rays. Third baseman Brandon Lowe and pitcher Blake Snell both were drafted by the Rays, but the remainder of the roster came via trades and free agent signings.

The guy responsible for much of the team's fortunes is general manager Erik Neander, 37, who's been in the position since 2016. Please don't assume that he's one of these Ivy League wunderkinds, steeped in analytics, numbers, data and math. Neander is a former ballplayer - high school, that is. He attended Virginia Tech, where in preparation for his future he majored in food, nutrition and exercise. As far as I can tell, the only employer he's ever had is the Rays, where he signed on as an intern in 2007.

While Neander may seem an unlikely choice for his present position, Cash adds to the unique quality of the franchise. A former big leaguer who went undrafted out of Florida State, Cash was the youngest manager in the major leagues when he was hired by the Rays in 2015 at the age of 38. He had played parts of eight seasons with five different American League clubs before becoming the bullpen coach with Cleveland in 2012. In six seasons as Tampa's skipper, the team has a .522 winning record.

Of course, Cash introduced us to "openers," often a relief pitcher who starts a game. Just like Friday, openers pitch an inning or two and are followed by a number of relievers in an attempt to have a fresh guy, thwarting the opposition. Cash raised more than a few eyebrows with this strategy, but over time other managers with flame-throwing relievers joined in.

Cash displayed another wrinkle last week when he employed four outfielders, leaving the infield as porous as a kitchen colander. No doubt his number-crunchers informed him of the odds of flyballs by specific hitters when facing specific pitchers, like in the eighth inning on Tuesday with Stanton facing Anderson. Stanton scalded a ball toward the left-field line, which Randy Arozarena calmly gloved without having to move more than two steps to his right.

Arozarena has an interesting background. Start with his name. Ahh-rrrow-sah-rrraaay-naaah. Trill those "r's." So much fun to say.

He's a Cuban who clandestinely left the country, reportedly by boat headed for the Yucatan. He played a season in Mexico before the Cardinals signed him in 2016, and after hitting .358 in Triple-A last year, Arozarena was called up to the big club.

He was doing just fine until he videoed skipper Mike Shildt's profane and boorish tirade in the Cardinal clubhouse after the Redbirds dispatched Atlanta in the NLDS. The video wound up on social media, propelling Arosarena into disfavor. He was traded to Tampa Bay last winter, but his debut with the Rays was delayed when he contracted COVID-19.

Once he got rolling, Arozarena became a force. In the first three games against the Yankees, he went 8-for-12 with three homers. He plays with verve and emotion and is a prominent personality in the Never-Heard-of-Him Club.

Another member of that club is the aforementioned Brosseau. Brosseau played four years of college ball at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, which is in the Horizon League.

(As an aside, Simeon's Kendrick Nunn, who played brilliantly for the Miami Heat in the NBA finals, also played at Oakland his senior season after being dismissed from the University of Illinois team.)

Brosseau could always hit, but no club drafted him four years ago. The thoroughness and skill of the Rays' scouting department was on full display when they signed Brosseau in June 2016. Advancing through the Rays' system, Brosseau even went to play in the Australian Baseball League the winter (summer in Australia) of 2017.

Last year at Triple-A Durham, Brosseau earned a shot with the big club, where he slashed .273/.319/.781 in 51 games. Those numbers rose to .302/.378/.936 in 36 games this season.

Chapman had uncorked a 101-mph missile dangerously close to Brosseau's head during the regular season, leading to a heated standoff between the two clubs. But in a post-game interview Friday, Brosseau claimed that all was in the past as he worked the Yankee closer in a 10-pitch at-bat that resulted in Brosseau's historic feat. He no longer is a member of the NHOH Club.

After another tense 2-1 win over Houston on Sunday night in Game 1 of the ALCS, Tampa Bay, complete with its unorthodox manager, little-known players, small payroll, and not a whole lot of home runs, is just three wins away from the World Series. They have challenged the trends of the game, emphasizing pitching and defense and out-of-the-box strategy. My friends, we're looking at Cinderella on steroids.

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Former Bill Veeck bar buddy Roger Wallenstein is our White Sox correspondent. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:16 AM | Permalink

(Prosthetic) Penises Suddenly Everywhere

If you've noticed an uptick of male frontal nudity in TV and in movies in recent years, you're on to something.

In 1993, I studied patterns of male nudity in my book Running Scared: Masculinity and the Representation of the Male Body. After the old Motion Picture Production Code was replaced by a new ratings system in 1968, frontal male nudity in Hollywood movies in certain contexts was permitted. Drive, He Said, directed by Jack Nicholson in 1971, was an early film to include such a scene, while Richard Gere's nude scene in 1980's American Gigolo helped to transform the young actor into an international sex symbol.

Yet female nudity remained far more common in movies, and there was no frontal male nudity on mainstream television as of 1993.

Screen Shot 2020-10-12 at 4.52.31 PM.pngEuphoria is one of many premium cable TV shows to feature an abundance of prosthetic penises/HBO

Since then, a lot has changed. Directors and audiences are becoming more and more comfortable showing male nudity.

But nowadays, while we're much more likely to see penises in mainstream film and television, they're seldom real. Prosthetic penises - once used for exaggerated effect - have become the norm.

To me, this says something about the unusual significance we continue to grant the penis, along with our cultural need to carefully regulate its representation. In a way, the use of prosthetic penises maintains a certain mystique about masculinity, preserving the power of the phallus.

Skirting The Production Code

There are a number of factors fueling the current wave of frontal male nudity.

In the 1990s, premium cable television channels like HBO became more popular, while streaming platforms like Amazon and Netflix took off in the 21st century.

These channels and platforms aren't governed by the Motion Picture Association's ratings system, which strictly limits the circumstances under which the penis can be shown.

According to the ratings - which still regulate theater releases - penises can be shown in nonsexual situations, such as when they appear during a concentration camp scene in Schindler's List. But if a scene involves sex and frontal male nudity, the actors have to be a certain distance apart. So when Bruce Willis' penis briefly appeared during an underwater swimming pool lovemaking scene in the The Color of Night, the MPAA objected, citing his proximity to the woman, and the shot had to be cut. Uncensored versions of the film are now available on DVD.

Premium cable TV channels are not governed by these guidelines, and the HBO show Oz, which aired from 1997 to 2003, marked a major turning point. Set in a prison, it was notable for the sheer quantity of full frontal male nudity, with characters shown in a variety of contexts, including showering and in their cells, fully naked.

Another reason for the trend in male nudity has to do with justifiable criticism of the ways women have been sexually objectified on TV and in film. Female nudity has been much more common than male nudity, and most of it tends to involve young, attractive women being showcased in a variety of erotic contexts, with an emphasis on their breasts and buttocks.

Some filmmakers, such as Judd Apatow and Sam Levinson, have said they've wanted to level the playing field by featuring more male nudity.

The Proliferation Of The Prosthetic

Like Oz, Starz' Spartacus, which premiered in 2010, was full of frontal male nudity.

However, there was a key difference: all the penises were prosthetic, which are made to be worn by the actors and look realistic when filmed.

One of the most famous prosthetic penises appeared in Paul Thomas Anderson's 1997 film Boogie Nights, which is about a porn star played by Mark Wahlberg. At the end of the film, viewers see a close-up shot of the actor's extremely large prosthetic penis.

Screen Shot 2020-10-12 at 4.54.02 PM.pngBoogie Nights features one of the most famous prosthetic penises/New Line Cinema

Prosthetics have been used on and off through the years. But after Spartacus their use has became the norm. Now in shows like HBO's The Deuce and Euphoria, they're everywhere. Sometimes they're even digital. In Nymphomaniac: Vols. I and II, director Lars von Trier digitally replaced the actors' penises with those from body doubles.

Whether they're tangible or digital they tend to have one thing in common: They're big.

The Obsession With Size

The prosthetic penis gives filmmakers total control over its representation, and some have used its flexibility to directly address this issue of size.

Take the 2015 romantic comedy The Overnight.

Penis size is first introduced in the opening scene, when a couple has awkward sex due to the husband's small penis. Later at a dinner party with another couple, penis size becomes the big issue again when a wife swap between the two couples is discussed.

The other man, played by Jason Schwartzman, has an extremely large one, while the man from the opening scene, played by Adam Scott, has a much smaller one, and becomes uncomfortable with the idea of being "exposed." During a protracted skinny dipping scene, viewers get to see each actor's prosthetic penis. Within the conventions of the romantic comedy, both couples are united at the end and committed to saving their marriages.

Screen Shot 2020-10-12 at 5.11.35 PM.pngIn The Overnight, penis size is a point of tension, and prosthetics are used to create the contrast/The Orchard

The Overnight attempts to deflate the myth that penis size matters. But at the same time that it tackles the obsession with size, it ends up reinforcing the notion - in part because of the opening scene - that bigger is better.

Similarly, Euphoria, a bold, experimental high school drama, also explores penis size, connecting the fixation on size to toxic masculinity. It shows how girls are also complicit by dwelling on size themselves - and assuming that it's linked to sexual performance and masculinity.

Toward A More Honest Representation

The Overnight and Euphoria strive to critique our culture's obsession with the penis, as do movies like Boogie Nights and TV shows like The Deuce, both of which are serious explorations of the pornography industry.

Yet by making the penis a central theme, these films and TV shows continue to grant it an aura of mystique and power that existed long before prosthetics and weaker regulations.

In the end, the use of prosthetics comes at the expense of the most mature thing filmmakers could do: show diverse, real penises in a manner that holds no special meaning for the character or plot.

While Spartacus would lead you to believe otherwise, all gladiators did not have big penises. Nor did their penis size and shape have anything to do with their strength, power, masculinity or sexuality.

Although apocryphal, Sigmund Freud was supposed to have remarked, "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar," which was meant to suggest that cigars are not always phallic symbols.

It'd be nice if, on screen, sometimes a penis was just a penis.

Peter Lehman is a professor emeritus of film and media studies in English at Arizona State University. This post is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

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Previously in penises: The Astonishing World Of The Penis.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:30 AM | Permalink

Social Media Platforms Remove War Crimes Evidence

Social media platforms are taking down online content they consider terrorist, violently extremist, or hateful in a way that prevents its potential use to investigate serious crimes, including war crimes, Human Rights Watch has found. While it is understandable that these platforms remove content that incites or promotes violence, they should ensure that this material is archived so it can possibly be used to hold those responsible to account.

The 42-page report, "'Video Unavailable': Social Media Platforms Remove Evidence of War Crimes," urges all stakeholders, including social media platforms, to come together to develop an independent mechanism to preserve potential evidence of serious crimes. They should ensure that the content is available to support national and international investigations, as well as research by nongovernmental organizations, journalists, and academics. Rights groups have been urging social media companies since 2017 to improve transparency and accountability around content takedowns.

"Some of the content that Facebook, YouTube, and other platforms are taking down has crucial and irreplaceable value as evidence of human rights atrocities," said Belkis Wille, senior crisis and conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch. "With prosecutors, researchers, and journalists increasingly relying on photographs and videos posted publicly on social media, these platforms should be doing more to ensure that they can get access to potential evidence of serious crimes."

Social media content, particularly photographs and videos, posted by perpetrators, victims, and witnesses to abuses, has become increasingly central to some prosecutions of war crimes and other serious crimes, including at the International Criminal Court (ICC) and national proceedings in Europe. This content also helps the media and civil society document atrocities and other abuses, such as chemical weapons attacks in Syria, a security force crackdown in Sudan, and police abuse in the United States.

For this report, Human Rights Watch interviewed seven people who work at civil society organizations; three lawyers; two archivists; one statistician; two journalists; one former prosecutor with experience in international tribunals; five individuals within internationally mandated investigations; three national law enforcement officers; one European Union official; and one member of the European Parliament.

It also reviewed Facebook, Twittermand YouTube content that Human Rights Watch has cited in its reports to support allegations of abuse since 2007. From 5,396 total pieces of content referenced in 4,739 reports - the vast majority of which were published in the last five years - it found that 619 (or 11 percent) had been removed.

In letters to Facebook, Twitter, and Google sent in May 2020, Human Rights Watch shared the links to this content that had been taken down and asked the companies if Human Rights Watch could regain access for archival purposes, a request which was not granted.

In recent years, social media companies including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have ramped up efforts to take posts from their platforms offline that they consider violate their rules, community guidelines, or standards according to their terms of service. This includes content they consider to be terrorist or violent extremist, hate speech, organized hate, hateful conduct, and violent threats.

The companies take down posts that users flag and content moderators review. But increasingly they also use algorithms to identify and remove offending posts, in some cases so quickly that no user sees the content before it is taken down. Governments globally have encouraged this trend, calling on companies to take down dangerous content as quickly as possible. It is unclear whether or how long social media companies store various types of content they take down or block from their sites.

Companies are right to promptly take content offline that could incite violence, otherwise harm individuals, or jeopardize national security or public order, so long as the standards they apply comport with international human rights and due process principles. Permanent removal of such content, however, can make it inaccessible and hamper important criminal accountability efforts.

No mechanism yet exists to preserve and archive social media takedowns that could provide crucial evidence of abuses, much less to ensure access by those who investigate international crimes. In most countries, national law enforcement officials can compel social media companies to hand over the content through the use of warrants, subpoenas, and court orders, but international investigators have limited ability to access the content because they lack law enforcement powers and standing.

Independent organizations and journalists have played a vital role in documenting atrocities around the globe, often when there were no judicial bodies conducting investigations. In some cases, this documentation has triggered judicial proceedings. However, they also have no ability to access taken-down content, and in common with official investigators, will not have notice of material artificial intelligence systems take down before anyone views it.

A European law enforcement officer investigating war crimes told Human Rights Watch that "content being taken down has become a daily part of my work experience. I am constantly being confronted with possible crucial evidence that is not accessible to me anymore."

Holding individuals accountable for serious crimes may help deter future violations and promote respect for the rule of law, Human Rights Watch said. Criminal justice efforts may also help restore dignity to victims by acknowledging their suffering and helping to create a historical record that protects against revisionism by those who deny that atrocities occurred. International law obligates countries to prosecute genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.

It is vital for social media companies and all relevant stakeholders to jointly develop a plan to establish an independent mechanism to take on the role of liaison with social media platforms and to preserve this content. The archive should be responsible for sorting and granting access to the content for research and investigative purposes, in accord with human rights and data privacy standards.

In parallel with these efforts, social media platforms should be more transparent about their existing takedown procedures, including through the increased use of algorithms, Human Rights Watch said. They should ensure that their own systems are not overly broad or biased and that they provide meaningful opportunities to appeal content removal.

"We appreciate that the task before social media companies is not easy, including striking the right balance between protecting free speech and privacy, and taking down content that can cause serious harm," Wille said. "Consultations that draw on the experiences of other historical archives could lead to a real breakthrough and help the platforms protect free speech and public safety, while also ensuring that accountability efforts aren't hampered."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:29 AM | Permalink

October 9, 2020

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #325: Bears In Never-Never Land

Enter Metallica.

Plus: Crow.

And: Go Blue!

Beachwood Radio Network · The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #325: Bears In Never-Never Land

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SHOW NOTES

* 325.

:18: Patriots Love.

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2:21: I AM MAD AT THE BEARS.

* Off to never-never land.

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Stuck in the middle with you.

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-> Worst 4-1 team anywhere.

-> We've been here before; this is why Lovie Smith was fired!

-> It's this every week!

-> We need clarity. We've got it: They are muddling along in middle. The middling team will muddle along!

-> No mercy for Ryan Pace.

-> This formula is not built for championships.

-> I am not getting on the bandwagon, I've seen enough. I'm putting my foot down!

-> I hate this!

Coffman: And the next draft they finally have a first-round pick again. It's classic Bears.

-> Matt Hoiberg.

-> Euphemisms unmasked: Mitch Trubisky isn't smart enough to be a successful NFL quarterback.

Rutter: Don't Blame Trubisky. Blame Bears' Schulz.

Coffman: Bears Bust.

Unknown: At least Foles is missing the right receivers.

* Nick Foles:

Screen Shot 2020-10-09 at 2.54.40 PM.png

* Cole Kmet! James Daniels!

* I DO NOT LIKE DAVID MONTGOMERY.

* I DO NOT LIKE ROQUAN SMITH.

* Welcome to 2020, Khalil Mack! Nice of you to show up.

* Komeback Kids!

* Bears sCHeDuLe

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56:23: Crow.

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1:00:53: Red Stars & Fire.

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1:01:10: Go Blue!

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STOPPAGE: 9:04

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For archives and other Beachwood shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:29 PM | Permalink

Joliet's Route 66 Raceway Left Off NHRA's 2021 Drag Racing Schedule

NHRA officials announced Wednesday a 22-race 2021 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series schedule. Details on Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, and Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying days as well as special exhibitions and specialty series that compete at national events will be announced in coming weeks.

NHRA enters 2021 with a new sponsor on its premier professional series - Camping World, the nation's largest retailer of recreational vehicles (RVs), RV accessories, and RV-related services - and an extended partnership with FOX Sports including amped-up coverage. All 22 events in this extreme sport series will be aired exclusively on FOX Sports with select events on the FOX broadcast network.

In 2021, NHRA will celebrate its 70th anniversary. Fans will experience special treats and features along the tour to commemorate this important milestone and honor the NHRA's vast history.

"We are grateful to the loyal NHRA fans and other members of the racing community who have stuck with us during the trying times of the 2020 season," said NHRA President Glen Cromwell. "We're looking forward to an exciting season of championship drag racing with fans in 2021. Thank you to our fans, racers, track operators, and partners for your continued support and cooperation."

For the first time, the NHRA season will kick off on the East Coast with the 52nd annual AMALIE Motor Oil Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway on March 12-14.

The traditional series opener, the 61st annual Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, will move to April 9-11 in 2021, starting a unique three-week spring stretch on the West Coast. The Winternationals will be followed by the DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Las Vegas, the first of two four-wide events during the 2021 campaign, and the NHRA Arizona Nationals in Phoenix, April 23-25.

NHRA's famed Western Swing, the popular three-race summer tradition, includes thrilling events at Bandimere Speedway in Denver, Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., and Pacific Raceways in Seattle over consecutive weeks.

The sport's biggest race, the historic NHRA U.S. Nationals, will stay in its traditional place over Labor Day Weekend, Sept. 1-5, at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.

NHRA's Countdown to the Championship playoff system, with the top 10 racers in each professional category competing for a championship over the final six races, will lead into the 2021 season finale, the 56th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals slated for November 12-14 at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif.

One facility, Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, is not holding any drag racing events at its facility in 2021, so it is not included on the schedule.

Fans are encouraged to check NHRA.com/tickets for updates on future ticket purchases.

Screen Shot 2020-10-08 at 7.41.24 PM.png

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See also: NASCAR Drops Chicagoland Speedway.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:32 AM | Permalink

October 8, 2020

The [Thursday] Papers

Last I heard, we had seven cases left in our census zone. We'll probably be done by the time I get this posted.

That's not to say the work is over; we're sending enumerators to several states that need help, and there's a zone (or two) in Chicago that we'd like to aid, if only they would have us.

But the end is near.

Technically, we have until October 31. That's when the entire operation nationwide is scheduled to end. Lots of housekeeping - administrative tasks - to complete before then, too.

And then we'll see. As always, I have a ton of projects I'd like to pursue - if only anyone was buying. And supervising two-dozen enumerators under difficult circumstances has only bolstered the confidence I have in my management and leadership skills - and that I should be leading a reporting team and/or newsroom somewhere. It's way past time, but let's just say the industry doesn't hire people like me to do the kind of work I do best. That was proven long ago.

Anyway, here are a few things I'd like to bring to your attention.

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New (and newish) on the Beachwood . . .

White Castle Inducts 3 Chicago Music Titans Into Cravers Hall Of Fame
"Their devotion to the Crave knows no bounds and serves as a shining example for Cravers everywhere."

You'll have to click through to see who won such acclaim.

Personal note: It probably won't surprise longtime readers to learn that I love White Castle. Can't remember the last time I had some - it's probably been years. Too bad, that. Logan Square could use one.

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The LA Dodgers As Easy Hollywood Sitcom Plot Line
I love Herman Munster - such a sweet man. Fred Gwynne's portrayal was true genius.

And I also love Mister Ed, even though he's not a very nice horse.

I understand there is a conspiracy theory - a few, in fact - that Ed was really a zebra more amenable to mimicking the mouth motions of talking. My conspiracy theory is that he really could talk.

Anyway, here's the piece and you'll see what I'm talking about.

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The Pentagon Took PPE Money And Bought Weapons
The world is full of outrage-provoking behavior, which makes it hard to get through the day, much less know how to continually express outrage and anger in a productive way. So I'll say no more here because the awfulness is so self-evident.

And make no mistake, the problem is people. Most people are truly awful.

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How American Criminalizes Immigrants
From eugenics to Obama.

Think you already know how? Think again. The history is (darkly) fascinating - the real history we are rarely taught.

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From The World's First Stuffed Animal To American Girl, Our 2021 Toy Industry Hall Of Fame Inductees Made Incredible Mark On Toys & Business Of Play
It's almost like it's Hall of Fame Week here at the Beachwood. Chicago connections here, natch.

The stories behind these people and their inventions/innovations teach us that so much in life is random - being in the right place at the right time with the right idea and the elements available to carve a path to make it all come true. Bad ideas, too.

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Trump Will Not Recognize His Own Re-Election
After all, if the election is rigged, why should he accept any results?

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The Chicago Immigrant Orchestra
A 12-piece ensemble. Check it out!

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Trump Let MBS Get Away With Murdering Jamal Khashoggi
"So long as U.S. leaders continue to coddle the Saudis, it's difficult not to ask who is more evil - the maniacal Saudi crown prince or the mendacious Western governments and businesspeople who support him."

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Brushing Scam
We all love surprises and gifts, but when these seemingly harmless free items come from a company or retailer, they may come with a higher cost than you realize.

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Heed The Lessons Of The Wilmette Man Who Translated The Nazis To Death
Peter Less wanted it understood that Germany was not tricked into giving power to Hitler. It was not duped into the Holocaust. Hitler knew where the darkness was, and knew how to rouse it for his own uses.

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What FBG Duck's Mother Says
"She started out speaking about her personal life growing up in Chicago and becoming a mother as a teenager with FBG Duck's older brother, the late FBG Brick. LaSheena then spoke about FBG Duck's childhood and their family centering around their matriarch, the rapper's late great-grandmother, who had a hand in raising LaSheena and FBG Duck."

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Bust 'Em All: De-Monopolize Tech, Telecoms And Entertainment
"In boolean terms, trustbusting tech, entertainment, and cable is an AND operation, not a XOR operation."

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Charles "Entertainment" Cheese's Halloween Boo-Tacular
Not-So-Scary Chuck E. Cheese Halloween Theme Kids Masks available for sale individually or with the Halloween Boo-tacular Bundle.

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The Unlikely Endurance Of The Rubik's Cube
The impact of the cube has been "much more interesting than the cube itself," Rubik said in an interview. His new book, he said, is about trying to understand its popularity and "why people love it."

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The Final Confession Of A Chicago Tour Guide
Real News: Sometimes customers actually complain when you don't sling the bullshit.

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And from the Beachwood Sports Desk . . .

Don't Blame Trubisky. Blame Bears' Schulz.
The organization's ineptitude stems from a genetic code.

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Bears Bust
The offense sucks, for sure. The defense? Jury out.

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Black Colleges Join eSports Bandwagon
Video games are lucrative - and not just for the players.

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The End Of An Era That Passed Chicago By
So much for a "great sports town."

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The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #324: The Core Is Rotten
Theo can build a team, but he can't really hold a team. Plus: Rickey Rentamanager's Lease Will Be Renewed; Central Sucking Time; Nick McCown; Red Stars & Fire.

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They Go, He Goes
When the players make the manager.

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Tweeting Foles
The Joe Biden of Bears quarterbacks, for some reason.

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Easton's Iconic Green Bat Is Back
A game-changer - again!

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ChicagoReddit

Where do you see Chicago in 100 years? [nonSerious replies only] from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

"Still Pimpin" / J-Gigolo (Chicago, 1994)

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BeachBook

Immigrants In COVID America.

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An Art Collective Turned Three Americans' Medical Bills Into Paintings and Then Sold Them to Erase $73,000 Worth of Debt.

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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The Beachwood Grip It And Rip It Line: Inktober.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:53 PM | Permalink

Don't Blame Trubisky. Blame Bears' Schulz.

Every city has its own well-tended gestalt garden of sports self-recrimination.

Chicago and its fans focus resentment on Bears quarterbacks for being, well, Bears quarterbacks, which is to say they are comparably not very good.

This is a comic strip we've seen somewhere before. Bears fans seem forever to be restaging the annual Swiped Ball Trick from Peanuts: Lucy, Charlie, "and that infernal football."

We blame them, mock them, harp on their failures and take solace that, however inept we are at our own lives, we are not as fumbling as they are. I know this to be true because I have done it, too.

It's metaphysical silliness and profoundly false.

It's also a cheap, childish laugh for which I would be ashamed had I any scruples on the issue.

Did you not laugh annually at Charlie Brown's misapplied trust that, at least this once, Lucy would not yank the football away and mock Charlie's naïveté?

In Chicago, as the leaves start to flutter groundward, it's usually the quarterback who swipes the pre-kicked ball. Double doink! And just as usually, Chicago fans are confused, shocked and angry, as if they hadn't seen this paradigm performed before.

We seem to be the perfect audience for slapstick or Snow White awakened with a kiss. We always seemed surprised.

Why are we surprised?

Lucy's need to torment Charlie seems as compulsive as the Bears' approach to quarterbacking but far more competent.

In Chicago's universe, the fans collectively are Charlie Brown and whoever is playing quarterback is Lucy. Or perhaps Lucy's offensive coordinator.

And just as social commentator Eric Schulmiller wrote years ago in a different comic context, the Bears have managed to institutionalize the central "Lucy swipes the ball" metaphor: "The uneasy tension between trust and betrayal, hope and despair. "

Peanuts in its prime was the perfect proving ground for sociologists and social commentarians, partly because every word in Peanuts has been permanently cataloged.

Peanuts creator Charles Schulz seems to have been the grim Martin Heidegger of our era.

As Schulmiller interpreted Lucy and Charlie: "To a kid, of course, it was the moment of failure that mattered - not the metaphor. No single act better encapsulated a child's feeling of powerlessness, and I felt Charlie Brown's frustration and disappointment with every bone in my body."

Sounds like the Bears to me.

That's how Bears' childlike fans and those who chronicle the team seem to respond.

Every year there is another, and slightly more manic reason why the Bears can't master this one central requirement. Every year is a "Groundhog Year" without Bill Murray.

And, as Lucy herself noted annually from 1966, finding a new reason to torture Charlie is essential to the joke.

In 1966, she said it was a "ten-billion-to-one" muscle spasm.

In 1980, she said: "To everything there is a season . . . and a time to pull away the football."

In 1965, she was Jung: "I'm not your mother, Charlie Brown."

In 1971, she was woke: "This year's football was pulled away from you through the courtesy of women's lib."

In 1974, she was philosophical: "In every program, Charlie Brown, there are always a few last-minute changes."

In 1996, it was Schulz's self-reveal as a creator: "Symbolism, Charlie Brown! The ball! The desire! The triumph! It's all there!"

But in 1986, Lucy was blunter: "Charlie Brown says: 'Somehow, I've missed the symbolism.' Lucy replies: 'You also missed the ball, Charlie Brown.'"

Of course, Lucy tormented Charlie in compensation because Charlie had once done the same to her on a football field. He'd been a cruel boy to her. She did not forget.

As she noted in 1963: "A woman's handshake is not legally binding."

Or 1969: "Never listen to a woman's tears, Charlie Brown."

And, very forebodingly in 1970, Lucy recites a long, passage from Isaiah, perhaps aimed also at the Bears: "How long (will you fail at this)? ALL YOUR LIFE, Charlie Brown, all your life!"

So, now another point of view arises.

The Bears might not need eternity to rescue themselves, though it will seem a forever punishment to fans.

But this we must realize.

Mitch Trubisky is not Mitch Trubisky's fault. Don't be angry at Lucy because Schulz made her harsh.

As with Lucy, Trubisky is actually blameless in the larger sense. And given the chance, would not each one of us be Mitchell Trubisky at his very NFL touchdown-misfiring worst if only we could?

Yes, we would.

I have decided that being angry with Mitch Trubisky because he is Mitch Trubisky is not only pointless, it is unfair.

It's like blaming Lucy.

Blame Charles Schulz if you must.

If you have heard the phrase "systemic racism" and didn't quite know what that was, the Bears are the organizational equivalent with "systemic ineptitude."

It appears built inside the team's genetic code.

That means it's not only one person; one event; one season. It's an entire structure incapable of excellence because it's not constructed for accountability or transparency. Is Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones ever going to fire General Manager Jerry Jones for his tortures? No, and neither is Virginia McCaskey or anyone in her family going to fire themselves any time soon.

What was Trubisky to do when the Bears offered him $29 million - that's TWENTY-NINE MILLION DOLLARS - to take a job that even he might have known he was unprepared to do efficiently? After all, plenty of observers announced Trubisky was an unwarranted risk.

Didn't Charlie Brown's friends warn him about Lucy? Don't they warn him every year?

It's possible even Trubisky might have known the doubts about him to be valid, and why it was true.

"Are you SURE you want to pay me $29 million?" Trubisky said incredulously to Bears General Manager Ryan Pace, as in NEVER.

So now that he is one year removed from the Bears' big turnaround, Pace is not only not going to be the Sporting News Executive of the Year, he's the guy who insisted Ford build the Pinto.

And before him, there was Phil Emery, and before him Jerry Angelo.

But NFL owners are known to give their general managers longer to prove their ineptness than general managers give their quarterbacks - especially to deflect from taking responsibility themselves.

The Bears are paying Pace $13 million - that's THIRTEEN FOLLOWED BY SIX ZERO DOLLARS - to be a mediocre general manager. Not only has he cost Bears ownership $29 million for Trubisky, he's also cost them at least $9 million - that's NINE MILLION DOLLARS a year - for replacement Nick Foles.

But Foles is just Lucy wearing a different uniform number.

Nonetheless, Foles gave the Bears a price break. The Bears don't have to pay Foles the remaining $56.9 million owed from his armed robbery of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Foles proved in Jacksonville what Trubisky demonstrated in Chicago: If pro teams spend money stupidly, it's not the players' duty to stop them.

Charlie keeps trusting Lucy. It's the essential joke.

It isn't Trubisky's fault that NFL general managers now pay quarterbacks the equivalent of Guatemala's gross national product.

As for Trubisky's pending exit, that means he has guaranteed $24 million - that's a nonrefundable TWENTY-FOUR MILLION DOLLARS - that went into his pocket. That was virtually guaranteed before he threw his first misguided missile, and the pile of loot will never emerge unless he wants to buy a Lamborghini. Or perhaps a two dozen Lamborghinis.

But fans will mock him. Even millionaires must suffer the anguish of upset fans. Players who fail this way are labeled "draft busts" as if the error was theirs. Trubisky is very close to that now.

So the Bears likely will send their latest Lucy metaphor into the free agent desert, and he'll spend the rest of his football life being Brian Hoyer or Marcus Mariota.

But while he suffers your disdain on his way out of town, Trubisky will have $29 million to comfort his wounded ego.

If that be suffering, lead me on.

It's almost Shakespearean in some ways, and also tragi-comedic.

As Schulz once explained of Lucy's cruel retributions: "You can't create humor out of happiness."

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David Rutter is the former publisher/editor of the Lake County News-Sun, and more importantly, the former author of the Beachwood's late, great "The Week In WTF" column. His most recent piece for us was The End Of A Baseball Era That Passed Chicago By. You can also check him out at his Theeditor50's blog. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:54 AM | Permalink

October 7, 2020

The Pentagon Took PPE Money And Bought Weapons

As the pandemic continues to claim lives across the country, new information keeps coming out about how the Trump administration has made it harder for Americans to protect themselves.

We now know, for example, that early in the pandemic the U.S. Postal Service had planned to deliver five face masks to every U.S. household. It could have made mask-wearing a lot more common a lot earlier - and saved a lot of lives. But the White House scrapped the idea.

Now we also know that the Trump administration took $1 billion in stimulus funds that were supposed to go towards making masks and other protective equipment for the pandemic and gave most of it to weapons manufacturers.

Those funds were part of $10.6 billion in CARES Act money allocated to the Pentagon - a staggering sum, especially since the bloated military budget already claims 53 cents of every discretionary federal dollar available to Congress.

The Pentagon's CARES money was supposed to help military employees and military families survive the pandemic.

The $1 billion in question was granted under a special law that lets the Pentagon require companies to manufacture urgently needed goods in case of a national emergency. This time, it was to make sure companies producing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), like N-95 masks, ventilators, and more, were making all they could.

But most of that money didn't go to making PPE at all. Trump's Defense Department gave it to corporations that make jet engines, drone flight controllers, and dress uniforms for the military. Two-thirds of it was distributed in big contracts worth more than $5 million each.

The military says that the "health" of the defense industry is crucial to national security. But the CARES Act money was specifically allocated to protect the health of the people of this country - not the companies that build weapons.

This comes at a moment when U.S. military spending is already near all-time highs - and when military contractors are doing better than lots of other companies.

"Major defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, and Northrop Grumman," the Washington Post reports, "have remained financially healthy despite some pandemic-related disruption, and have continued to pay stock dividends to investors."

Indeed, the CEOs of those companies rank among the highest paid corporate executives in the country. Last year General Dynamics' CEO raked in $18 million, Northrup Grumman's made $20 million, and Lockheed-Martin's pulled in a whopping $31 million.

Still, many of those same military corporations paid out of the $1 billion Pentagon slush fund also applied for - and received - funds from the federal Paycheck Protection Program that Congress designated specifically to prevent COVID-related layoffs. These extra Pentagon grants came on top of that, except without any requirements to protect jobs. Those companies could take the money and still fire as many employees as they want.

An additional $1 billion would have made a huge difference in the fight against COVID-19. My colleagues at the Institute for Policy Studies found that $1 billion could have funded nearly 28 million COVID-19 tests or purchased over 294 million N-95 respirator masks.

What makes us safer in the pandemic: access to more testing and a lot more face masks, or helping military corporations and their CEOs make a killing on our tax money?

Add that to the canceled Postal Service plan to distribute hundreds of millions more masks, and the record keeps getting more appalling.

Make no mistake: The Trump administration's heartlessness and militarism are costing lives.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:05 PM | Permalink

From The World's First Stuffed Animal To American Girl, Our 2021 Toy Industry Hall Of Fame Inductees Made Incredible Mark On Toys & Business Of Play

Open up any toy box around the world and you'll be sure to find the creations of the esteemed 2021 inductees into Toy Industry Hall of Fame: William C. Killgallon, who transformed the Etch A Sketch into a household name; Pleasant T. Rowland, the trailblazer who founded American Girl; and the late Margarete Steiff, inspiring inventor of the world's first stuffed animal. Additionally, Phillip Bloom, founder of The Bloom Report, was inducted for his work as a respected toy news pioneer.

This year's Hall of Fame inductees were nominated and voted on by members of The Toy Association in recognition of their significant contributions to the industry and the impact they have had on the lives of children through a lifelong commitment to toys and play.

They join an impressive roster of 77 toy industry luminaries who have been inducted into the Hall since it was established in 1984, including those who brought to life Mickey Mouse (Walt Disney), Barbie (Ruth and Elliot Handler), The Muppets (Jim Henson), and more.

The Toy Industry Hall of Fame lives alongside the National Toy Hall of Fame in a special exhibit at The Strong museum in Rochester, NY. The cutting-edge installation features inductees of both halls under one roof.

The latest inductees will be honored during the virtual 21st annual Toy of the Year Awards (TOTY) on Friday, February 12, 2021.

"This year's Hall of Fame inductees have made an enduring mark on the toy industry and in the hearts of countless millions of children worldwide," said Steve Pasierb, president & CEO of The Toy Association.

"Phillip Bloom, William C. Killgallon, Pleasant T. Rowland, and Margarete Steiff are change-makers and innovators whose careers and inventions are an inspiration to us all. If these past months of the pandemic have taught us anything, it's that toys and play have the awesome power to comfort, heal, and bring hope to kids both young and old. So, it is with great pleasure and pride that we announce their induction and celebrate their myriad achievements."

Meet The Inductees

2021 Living Inductee
Philip Bloom

With a career spanning 40+ years, Philip Bloom got his start in the 1950s working in an early version of a discount store. He went on to hold various store management, buying, and merchandising positions at mass retail merchants through the 1970s and 1980s, including Children's Bargain Town in Chicago (one of two regional toy retailers that eventually became Toys"R"Us), and Circus World Toy Stores in Detroit, where he served as senior vice president and general merchandise manager, and was instrumental in the company's expansion from nine to 150 stores.

Seeing an entrepreneurial opportunity, Bloom moved to the New York area and became president of Toy Retailers, Inc. in New Jersey, where he developed the concept of retailing children's clothing in a combination store with toys.

As big-box retail flourished in the 1980s, Bloom re-joined Toys"R"Us in 1983. He was appointed vice president of merchandising and pioneered the merchandising initiatives in the first 10 Toys"R"Us international locations.

After retiring in 1998, Bloom created an online toy industry newsletter. Today, The Bloom Report has 8,000+ subscribers in 29 countries who visit the website 3.6 times per week on average for toy industry news that is updated throughout every business day.

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2021 Living Inductee
William C. Killgallon

William C. Killgallon joined the Ohio Art Company in 1969 and served as president and CEO from 1978 until his retirement in 2016, capping a 47-year run. Today he serves as chairman of the board.

During his tenure, Killgallon oversaw the development and marketing of hundreds of toys, including the company's most famous brand, Etch A Sketch, which enjoyed a renaissance under his leadership. Because of his stewardship, Etch A Sketch continues to be one of the world's most iconic toy brands.

Killgallon's commitment to quality and safety was second to none; to ensure products met the exacting and ever-changing toy safety standards, he consistently held the manufacturing team and engineers to the highest standards, instituting an internal program that bundled all retailer requirements, focusing on the most stringent ones and using them as the basis for all toys. This approach soon became the industry standard.

Colleagues have called him a man of high character, as well as a valued business partner who respected honest competition, and an advocate for policies and conduct that benefited the entire toy industry.

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2021 Living Inductee
Pleasant T. Rowland

Pleasant T. Rowland founded American Girl after a trip to Colonial Williamsburg in 1986, when she combined her love of American history and her commitment to high-quality educational products to create The American Girls Collection, a line of historically accurate books, dolls, and accessories representing pivotal times in America's past.

As a trailblazer in creating purposeful play, Pleasant expanded her vision with the launch of a contemporary line, now called Truly Me, that celebrates girls' individuality with dolls featuring a diverse array of face shapes, skin tones, eye colors, and hairstyles, as well as a line of advice books, Smart Girl's Guide, which has sold 12 million copies.

She went on to create the Girl of the Year line, featuring contemporary characters who experience modern-day issues, and Bitty Baby, a nurturing line of diverse baby dolls.

Mattel acquired the brand in 1998 and shortly thereafter, Rowland fulfilled her dream of opening an experiential retail store, American Girl Place-Chicago, where fans could shop the product in person and immerse themselves in unique dining, theatre, and salon experiences with their dolls.

To date, American Girl has welcomed 100+ million visitors to its popular stores and has been recognized as a premier model for experiential retail.

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2021 Posthumous Inductee
Margarete Steiff

Born in 1847 in Giengen an der Brenz, Germany, Margarete Steiff (1847-1909) was stricken with polio at 18-months-old and would spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair.

As a young girl, her parents arranged for her to take sewing lessons along with her sisters; they felt these lessons were vitally important so that she could one day support herself.

Even though polio had left her permanently paralyzed, she learned to use her one good arm to operate a sewing machine, and by 1879, was skilled enough to begin making and selling clothing under her own brand name.

While thumbing through a fashion magazine of the era, the now-accomplished seamstress noticed a pattern for a small elephant pincushion. She decided to make a few of these as gifts for friends and family. Before long, the children of Giengen had adopted and repurposed the pincushions as the world's first soft toys and an entirely new kind of plaything was born, replacing the wooden and tin toys and hard bisque dolls of the era.

By 1893, Steiff's company shifted away from the clothing business to focus exclusively on toys. The growing entity gained its biggest boost in 1897 when her nephew, Richard Steiff, joined the firm. He went on to invent the Teddy bear in 1902 and by 1907, Margarete Steiff GmbH was producing more than 1 million Teddy bears a year.

Today, the Steiff assortment of more than 800 different bears and other animals is available on every continent.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:00 PM | Permalink

White Castle Inducts 3 Chicago Music Titans Into Cravers Hall Of Fame

White Castle, America's first fast-food hamburger chain, has been an inspiration to artists and bands for decades. Next week, the home of The Original Slider® will celebrate titans of the music industry by inducting three extraordinary Cravers into its exclusive Cravers Hall of Fame.

Styx front man Tommy Shaw, renowned concert promoter Danny Zelisko and the late singer-songwriter John Prine will join fellow legends in the Castle halls of Crave.

Reserved for the most devout fans, White Castle's Cravers Hall of Fame has been inducting legends from Main Street to the main stage for nearly 20 years. Among the well-known honorees are rock icon Alice Cooper, the late comic pioneer Stan Lee and the stars of Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, John Cho and Kal Penn.

"The entire White Castle family is honored to welcome these legends to the Cravers Hall of Fame," said Jamie Richardson, vice president at White Castle. "Their devotion to the Crave knows no bounds and serves as a shining example for Cravers everywhere."

The three legends will be celebrated in a COVID-safe, socially-distanced ceremony at a Nashville White Castle at 4 p.m. CT on Tuesday, October 13. The Inside the Cravers Studio interviews will be livestreamed on White Castle's Facebook page. In addition to attendance by Tommy Shaw and Danny Zelisko, Fiona Prine, John's wife, will be accepting on his behalf. The interview and ceremony are expected to focus on how these gifted entertainers have "fed the souls" of their craving fans over the years, as well as making their Hall of Fame status official.

The Hall of Fame's newest inductees each have a spectacular story to tell of their love for White Castle.

* Tommy Shaw, Acclaimed Guitarist and Front Man, Styx.

About 10 years ago, Tommy Shaw and bandmates were at a banquet in Nashville where they were to receive a Lifetime Achievement award from the International Entertainment Buyers Association. It was an extravagant banquet with a menu perfectly commensurate with such nice events. Yet, Tommy and good friend Danny Zelisko weren't satisfied.

Danny made a call to White Castle, disappeared for a moment and returned to the hotel ballroom with bellmen by his side carrying stacks of Crave Cases. Inside each were 30 perfect Cheese Sliders! The rest of the attendees immediately took notice and wanted in.

Of the night, Tommy says, "The Crave was shared by all - it was unforgettable!"

WC_Cravers_Hall_of_Fame_Tommy_Shaw_and_Danny_Zelisko.jpgTommy Shaw and Danny Zelisko

* Danny Zelisko, Famed Concert Promoter.

Danny Zelisko has been sharing the Crave since growing up in Chicago in the '60s, when a dollar could secure him 10 sliders! He moved to Arizona in the early '70s, which did not yet have a Castle.

Fortunately, as a concert promoter for some of the most legendary musicians of all time, Danny traveled the country a lot. And when he did, he let his Crave take him to a Castle whenever he could. He loved how, no matter the location, White Castle always delivered on that one-of-a-kind taste.

Danny started working with John Prine in the late '70s, and their ritual in every city was to eat sliders after the show. That bond - or Crave - would last a lifetime.

One night, the two paid a taxi driver $100 to pick up White Castle and bring it back to their hotel! In fact, Danny shared the Crave with countless bands over the years. He would surprise the musicians and their road crews with Crave Cases - and they loved it every time. The band Styx, also from Chicago, are also mighty fans. Danny and Tommy Shaw downed a sack of sliders after their last shows earlier this year.

Of this honor bestowed on him, Danny says, "I am a Craver, and always will be. Being recognized as a Hall of Fame Craver is like getting the Medal of Freedom. White Castle is Americana at its finest. The mere mention brings a smile to the faces of the Cravers, aka those who 'know.' Viva White Castle!"

WC_Cravers_Hall_of_Fame_John_Prine_and_Danny_Zelisko.jpgDanny Zelisko and John Prine

* John Prine, Grammy-Winning Singer-Songwriter.

John Prine's tour manager of nearly 30 years, Mitchell Drosin, had a front-row seat for the immensity of John's Crave.

One morning many years ago in Kansas City, Mitchell's hotel room telephone rang around 8 a.m. A woman on the line asked if her husband could meet John at his show in Houston the following day, her husband's birthday. Mitchell said, "Yep, no problem," not overthinking it at such an hour, and closed his eyes again. Yet, the phone rang again and it was the same woman with a more detailed request. She said her husband, a Canadian astronaut, needed some hours in the cockpit and could fly a private jet to them in Kansas City and continue on to Houston. Even more curious, the Canadian astronaut was to be accompanied by an Italian astronaut.

This was music life, man. Mitchell called John later in the morning to tell him what happened. John was all for it, but unbeknownst to the astronauts, he had something in mind to make the trip even more epic. En route to the airport, John said, "Let's stop at White Castle first and pick up a bunch of sliders for the pilots and attendants."

When they boarded the plane, John said with a smile, "Hey, I've got lunch for everyone!"

The astronauts had never had White Castle before. Needless to say, they loved every bite. The group bonded over the sliders and made the entire plane smell of grilled onions!

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:12 AM | Permalink

October 6, 2020

Black Colleges Join eSports Bandwagon

The fall semester for most college students won't look like any semester in the past, and that's not such a bad thing for Keenan Johnson. He attends one of North Carolina's historically black colleges and universities, Johnson C. Smith University, which is offering classes remotely because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Johnson isn't thrilled to be logging into his courses from home, but he is excited for one of the university's newest student groups - the JCSU Esports Club.

"We're basically making history at HBCUs," said Johnson, a 20-year-old junior.

keenan-johnson-scaled.jpegKeenan Johnson by Keenan Johnson

eSports, also known as competitive video game playing, have recently boomed into a billion-dollar industry, and college students are some of the biggest players. But eSports at historically black colleges and universities have been slow to catch on, and Johnson is excited to see that change. Educators at those colleges hope so, too, although for different reasons.

Students highly skilled at playing games like NBA2K, Fortnite and Madden NFL can win scholarships, join leagues and associations for college eSports programs and potentially become professional gamers.

Screen Shot 2020-10-06 at 4.18.23 PM.pngPlayers compete in the Duos competition during the 2019 Fortnite World Cup Finals in New York City/Johannes Eisele, AFP via Getty Images

But for several historically black colleges and universities, it's not all about fun and games. These institutions see Black eSports involvement as a stepping-stone toward jobs and internships for their students, as well.

So this school year, they are launching eSports classes and joining eSports organizations and leagues that will allow students to improve their gaming skills, while also networking with tech companies. They are offering courses in marketing, communications and tournament management, all within the eSports industry.

This month, Johnson C. Smith started offering an eSports and gaming management minor. The university also opened an eSports lab that can comfortably seat 25 gamers. In August, Florida Memorial University hired a sports marketing pro to develop curriculum around eSports, augmented reality, virtual reality and other topics that can help students thrive in the eSports ecosystem. In July 2019, Hampton University received a $340,658 grant to build an eSports lab.

Soon, Black eSports clubs and teams at historically black institutions will be able to compete against each other in a new organization designed just for them: The Black Collegiate Gaming Association. This fall it will host an eSports academy to educate HBCU students about the industry. Sixteen historically black institutions have signed on.

"We want them to be able to compete professionally and start earning and winning dollars that could help support keeping them in school, and also help bring dollars back to the university," said Keshia Walker, chairman and founder of the Black Collegiate Gaming Association.

Screen Shot 2020-10-06 at 3.31.21 PM.pngKeshia Walker/Insights Marketing

The association is also working with corporate partners such as GameStop, Intel and HyperX to help students get internships and work experience on the corporate side of eSports, Walker said.

The job opportunities in eSports are numerous.

"That's one of the greatest things about eSports: Your only career path in the space isn't just to play the game," said William Collis, author of The Book of Esports.

There are team managers, coaches, dieticians, wellness advisers and eSports psychologists, plus people who can film or plan events, as well as edit videos, he said.

Related: HBCUs open their doors wider to international students

The Black Collegiate Gaming Association launched in May, but three major collegiate eSports associations have been around for years. The Collegiate Star League launched in 2009, and now works with about 1,800 colleges and universities. Tespa, a collegiate gaming association that has more than 270 student chapters at big-name institutions such as the University of Virginia and University of Michigan, is about a decade old. And the National Association of Collegiate Esports, launched in 2016, has about 170 member schools.

These organizations have primarily emphasized expertise in playing video games. The Black Collegiate Gaming Association hopes to marry such skills with the book smarts needed to work in the corporate side of the eSports industry. The HBCUs in the association must commit to making Black eSports more than an extracurricular activity by offering academic eSports classes.

Historically black institutions that aren't in the BCGA are also incorporating eSports classes into their curricula. At Johnson C. Smith, a private HBCU with about 1,400 undergraduates, students taking eSports classes can learn how to work in the industry without being a gamer. Its new eSports and gaming minor will consist of seven classes. Students will learn about trends in eSports as well as other topics that will help them if they aren't players but want to work in this field.

"In other words, how do you go about organizing, planning, executing eSports tournaments and events?" said BerNadette Lawson-Williams, a professor of sport management at the university.

This academic year, Tennessee State University, a charter member of the Black Collegiate Gaming Association, is taking a different approach - building out an Ssports curriculum that focuses on how Ssports connect with traditional forms of education.

Related: HBCUs are leading centers of education, so why are they treated like second-class citizens?

"We wanted to look at eSports as a new strategy in enhancing and improving teaching and learning," said Robbie Melton, associate vice president for smart technology innovation for global initiatives at the university. Video games and eSports can be used to help students of all ages improve basic academic skills, she said. Melton, along with her co-teacher Effua Ampadu, is teaching a course on the rise of eSports and gamification in higher education.

"If something like Candy Crush can gross a billion dollars, and people are on it constantly, regardless of age, why can't we take that same technology concept and apply it to math, English, reading and writing, across all of the disciplines?" Melton said.

At Florida Memorial University, eSports classes will be a part of a larger curriculum, within the university's computer science department, focused on technology and innovation, said Marc Williams, a global scholar-practitioner at the university who came on board in August. Before arriving at FMU, Williams worked in sports marketing for more than two decades and was a visiting scholar at Louisiana State University Eunice, a predominantly white institution. In this moment, he thought it necessary to share his business savvy with Black college students.

"When George Floyd died, to me it just made sense to be at an HBCU," he said. After talking with the president of Florida Memorial University, Jaffus Hardrick, about the importance of recruiting Black men for college and helping them graduate, Williams decided to go to FMU. "I could either be part of the solution and using the eSports and the technology piece to get them to come to school, or I can just go to these white colleges that have these huge budgets, and optically be at those schools and do something there."

Kentucky State University, which is also a charter member of the Black Collegiate Gaming Association, has a different approach to video games than many of its peers. Its students learn how to make games. Students can choose video game development as a concentration for computer science majors. They learn about topics such as two-dimensional game programming, computer graphics and software engineering for gamers.

"It's pretty much, and not surprisingly so, our most popular concentration," said Jens Hannemann, an associate professor in the university's computer science department.

Related: Many HBCUs are teetering between surviving and thriving

Esports has a global audience of players and fans who are willing to invest in games. In 2019, there were 885 major eSports events around the world that generated about $56.3 million in ticket revenues, according to the market research firm Newzoo. That year, prize money totaled about $167 million, Newzoo reported. Global eSports generated $950.6 million in revenue in 2019, and that figure is expected to reach $1.1 billion this year.

Colleges and their students can get some of that cash. Institutions can get money for esports labs, equipment and other tools needed to educate students, and can profit from competitions. "The eSports tournament can bring in such a significant increase in revenue to the university that it will give schools the opportunity to give students a better experience within its program," David C. Hughes and W. Timothy Orr wrote in The Sport Journal.

Some non-HBCU institutions, such as New England College in New Hampshire and Becker College in Massachusetts, already have tech companies sponsoring their eSports clubs and teams. At Johnson C. Smith, RIG and Nacon Gaming, which makes video game accessories (such as controllers and keyboards), provided headsets for the eSports lab. Riot Games, which makes one of the most popular eSports games, League of Legends, donated gaming chairs.

Screen Shot 2020-10-06 at 4.24.19 PM.pngThe eSports lab at Johnson C. Smith University/StealthEnomics

Students can win college scholarships for gaming, which typically range between $500 and $8,000, according to Next College Student Athlete, which helps athletes of all kinds get recruited by colleges.

"We want to start building, creating, training professional gamers, and also corporate executives and leaders, to start working on both sides of the games," said Walker, who's a graduate of Florida A&M University, another historically black institution.

At Johnson C. Smith, Keenan Johnson wants to take some eSports classes, but that will probably have to wait until the spring semester. He's majoring in information systems engineering and carrying an 18-credit course load, plus working at an Aldi grocery store. He's also the president of the JCSU Esports Club. Since high school, he's thought about creating video games. And now that eSports can be a part of his college experience, he feels hopeful about making this ambition a reality.

"I feel like I can actually achieve this," he said.

This post was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news outlet focused on innovation and inequality in education.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:11 PM | Permalink

Bears Bust

What are we to make of this team, this Bears team that is? It is oftentimes better to sketch out an assessment a few days after a given game, after the worrisome tide of dozens of little outrages has receded just a bit and we can take a bit better look at the bigger picture.

First and foremost overall is still the fact that the great quarterback hope has crashed and burned. And that fact in and of itself should make it far more likely than not that the general manager will be fired at the end of the year. You can't continue to employ a guy who has no effing clue who has a chance to be a great quarterback and who will be a bust.

The substitute signal-caller, the guy we were told would be the best one possible to run the Matt Nagy offense, was lousy on Sunday in the Bears' 19-11 loss to the Colts. And so were way too many of Nagy's play calls. In general, celebrated Colts' defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus's game plan dominated that of the Bears' offensive-minded head coach.

It was just one game, blah blah blah. The Bears are still 3-1, better through the first quarter of the season than I had expected but still thankful for luck more than great playing performances in any phase of the game or of the coaches' schemes. They so easily could be 1-3 if not 0-4.

The next test comes charging in in a couple days. The Bears have very little time to correct their many flaws before facing the Tom Brady Buccaneers on Thursday.

The offense still sucks, sure. Fears that the success that side of the ball had for portions of the first three games was mostly due to the quality and healthiness of the competition seem well-founded at this point. That received the majority of the attention Monday and rightly so.

Then again, it felt like the defense took a significant step forward Sunday. So let's put the spotlight on that, shall we?

The best thing that happened on that side of the ball against the Colts, and that happened the week before against Atlanta for that matter, was that the Bears were able to generate early pressure on a stand-up veteran quarterback. Both Matt Ryan and Philip Rivers are capable of throwing inaccurate passes at times even when they haven't been pressured or aren't facing pressure on a given play. But they are far more likely to do so if they aren't confident about their protection, like just about any other quarterbacks.

When Pro Bowl quarterbacks aren't as accurate as usual two games in a row, one does start to believe that the defense deserves more credit than generic quarterback failings.

Of course, there need to be more big plays i.e., turnovers. But those tend to come in clusters. Two games ago, Eddie Jackson had what was essentially a game-clinching interception and awesome touchdown return called back due to a questionable pass interference call, a call Jackson said later that a referee apologized for. And on Sunday, Khalil Mack had what seemed like a sure pick drop softly into his hands. He needed only to catch it and then make a move or two to turn it into a touchdown. Instead, he dropped it. Plays like that are a little more likely to go the Bears' way in the next game.

The best development against the Colts was the rise of Roquan Smith. The linebacker who is Ryan Pace's last chance at having made a good first-round draft selection in any of his drafts despite picking in the top 10 time after time, seemed like a different player in the second half than he had been in three-and-a-half games prior.

Did defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano figure something out schematically or did Smith just step up? We should be able to figure that out in the second quarter of the season.

Bring on Thursday night!

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Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:48 AM | Permalink

Breaking: Trump Will Not Recognize His Own Re-Election

Transcript of this morning's statement by the President of the United States.

Hello, this is President Donald Trump reaching out to America to say I'm feeling fine. And to say, "Thank you, thank you" to all the people that've stood beside me during this minor incident.

It's like I've said: I am stronger than the Chinese virus and so are the American People!

I've had a worse time with Athlete's Foot than with this supposed killer.

But today we face a far greater threat to America than whatever Chinese scientists can come up - everything they know, they stole from us.

Everybody knows that.

I'm talking about the wholesale massive electoral fraud that the Democrats and Antifa are cooking up.

They've printed so many ballots that that thousands of them are blowing around in Las Vegas parking lots - and out in the desert too!

The pictures are up online, you can see the Truth for yourself.

There has never been a more rigged and phony election in the history of the world than this one - ten thousand years of elections across the world and never one as phony as this!

Therefore I will NEVER concede defeat to senile socialist "Old Joe" under any circumstances.

Never, people. Never.

But also - knowing that this "election" is a phony sham - neither will I take office if I win. After all, why should I accept ANY result of this "election?"

I will therefore NOT accept a second term even if I supposedly "win" this fraudulent false fraud.

Fair is fair, truth must be told.

But you can count on me - the STRONGEST President in history (you finally have a President who stood up AMERICA and its workers, shut down the China war against our people, beat the virus, the fake news, and the Deep State).

I will not accept either victory or defeat from this totally fraudulent election.

But I will keep serving to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN until the Supreme Court - I've got the Greatest People there, they are the best in world - makes us have a LEGAL election.

Or tosses out all the FAKE votes from the Democrat fraudsters, the illegals, and the criminals.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

GOD BLESS AMERICA.

And GOD BLESS DEMOCRACY!

Thank you.

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Previously by Steve Eckardt: This Chicago Writer Warned Us 25 Years Ago.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:24 AM | Permalink

October 5, 2020

The [Monday] Papers

Wow, sorry for the week-long layoff in this space, we are trying to close out Chicago's Census Zone 5. We are oh so close. As we have been for a week.

I'm (ostensibly) off from the census Tuesday, so I'll try to fill up this column then. No promises, though. I might just sleep.

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Now, the most I can muster right now . . .

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This is only an issue because of Donald Trump's bullshit.

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The Beachwood Bash & Pop Line: Kill it.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:28 PM | Permalink

The End Of A Baseball Era That Passed Chicago By

We will ring the altar's chimes three times today in remembrance. The Bob Gibson Era is over.

In some philosophical ways, my era is over, too. This is awareness with no bitterness and only minor regret because this is the natural progression of life.

The Bob Gibson Era is not Gibson's alone, of course. Sandy Koufax is 85. Juan Marichal is 83. Gaylord Perry is 82. Ferguson Jenkins is 78. Sam McDowell is 78. Jim Bunning died three years ago; Don Drysdale has been gone for 27 years.

They were the men and mighty they were who forced baseball to lower the pitching mound by five inches, just to give mortals a fighting chance to hit them.

On the week when the Cubs and White Sox both made ignominious exits from the season and threw their fans into mental hip dysplasia, the news about Gibson was a small blip on the local sonar screen.

I doubt that Chicago fans - especially now - can understand who he was or the force be brought to his stage.

That's because the Cubs, White Sox and their fans seldom shared in the Gibson Era or its marvels. They had tickets to the cheap seats.

Oddly enough, the Cubs had their moments against Gibson. Billy Williams' homer in the 10th beat him, 1-0, on Opening Day in 1971. But the problem with statistical history is that it often misses the subtext. When the Cubs intermittently beat Gibson, they were seldom involved in a pennant fight.

But the Prometheus Unbound should not leave without everyone who loves baseball clearly understanding who he was. He nearly dwarfed the game in which he toiled.

To be blunt, Gibson's Era paid little attention to Chicago or its decade-long irrelevance.

Because every game he pitched was a war, longtime Cubs fans might not have understood the gestalt.

Chicago fans were not angry. They were morose and often pitiful. That's about all the attention I paid to Chicago in that decade.

Their teams were never good enough consistently to validate such anger. Gibson was playing a bigger, angrier game than the Cubs and White Sox were.

The 1960s were only loaned to the Beatles. In my youthful world, Gibson was the owner of record.

As for the Cubs and White Sox of those years? Until 1969, the Cubs never finished much closer than 13 games of the championship since 1937.

The Cubs had back-to-back rookies of the years in 1961 and '62 (Billy Williams and Ken Hubbs) but finished 29 and 42 1/2 games out of first.

The Cubs had not been really good since 1937. That makes you morose and pitiful.

The Sox? They were Casper The Friendly Sox in the 1960s because there was no division play, and the Yankees were always better. They went poof into history. There are almost no recorded videotaped White Sox games of that entire decade.

If Gibson had no reason to care about or notice Chicago fans in the 1960s - he didn't - I had even less reason.

This might come as some shock to current Cubs fans. As they languished for decades in their own incompetence, the rest of the baseball world did not suffer with them. That's a Chicago conceit.

We didn't care.

As Peter Lorre's Ugarte expressed this distilled dislike to Bogart's Rick in Casablanca:

"You despise me, don't you?" says the creepy Ugarte.

Says Rick: "If I gave you any thought, I probably would."

That's how some of us felt about the Cubs and White Sox, and still do. Drive south of I-80's boundary to the other world, and test how many people worry about either team.

I know, I know. You don't care. That's fair enough. But here's the thing to which I wish to confess: I am very sad about Gibson's passing last week, a month short of his 85th birthday.

I am only mildly indifferent about the pain of Chicago fans.

Some fans arrive at intelligent, passionate, tribal fandom based on admiring "your" teams, but even more, because you admire the players.

So if Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Curt Flood and Tim McCarver had played for the White Sox (ewwww, retch), I likely would have been a White Sox fan (ewwwwwww).

First among equals was Gibson, a man that Chicago fans likely did not understand at all. Different wavelengths.

I came to love the Cardinals because of Gibson, and the resolute, gee-whiz Stan "The Man" Musial before him.

Even as a kid, I knew Gibson was a rock upon which I had built my church.

He had been tormented in the segregated Jim Crow north by Jim Crow coaches playing Jim Crow games.

That didn't stop when he came to the Cardinals during the Solly Hemus managerial torment that lasted 2 1/2 years until 1961.

Hemus was a deliberate, bullying bigot who told Gibson to skip strategy meetings because he wouldn't be smart enough to participate. Gibson was an alumnus of Creighton University in Omaha and likely the most educated man on the Cardinals.

Gibson also likely was the best athlete to ever pitch in the majors. He had not only been a college basketball star, but played for the Harlem Globetrotters for a year while he mulled being a Cardinal.

Gibson was Creighton's all-time leading scorer in basketball, and had most wanted to play for Branch McCracken's Hurryin' Hoosiers. But McCracken dismissed him out of hand because, in McCracken's own words, "We have our quota of Negroes . . . "

At Indiana, the quota was "1."

Gibson was a man of supreme moments. Supreme angry moments.

Every time Gibson explicitly warned batters about standing too close to "his" plate, he would throw at their chin to remind them who was now in charge of their life. The world had pushed too hard at Gibson for him to be passive; he pushed back even harder.

He made his own rules and morality. And enforced them. Good, I always thought.

You feel his anger sizzling through the radio, which is the medium through which I came to admire him. Every one of his 17 years with the Cardinals - 251 victories, 3,117 strikeouts, and 56 shutouts - was a war.

I was an audio witness and heard almost all of them by radio. Even when the games were televised, I would turn off that sound and pipe up the radio signal.

Every one of the 2.91 earned runs he surrendered per game seemed a resented torture for him.

On the evening of Aug 14, 1971, I was returning home when Gibson took the mound in Pittsburgh against the Pirates. I sat transfixed in my old Toyota Corolla, parked on the street near my house, and listened to Gibby's no-hitter. He was 35 then and nearing the end.

I missed dinner that night because I could not bear to miss the sound of history.

He took 2 hours and 22 minutes, and 124 pitches to record his 48th career shutout. He whiffed Willie Stargell on a 3-2 count to end it.

As Stargell said later, "All those people who said that Gibson was washed up should have had to bat against him tonight."

The 1960s belonged to him. He was as reliable as sweat in summer. He pitched 13 shutouts in1968; four of them were 1-0.

Gibson pitched in a "different era" that was different mostly because he was in it. True, it was also the age of Koufax, Drysdale, Marichal and Perry. But mostly, Gibson was his own Era.

Example? He made nine post-season starts, all in the World Series, and completed eight, went 7-2 with a 1.89 ERA. In 81 innings, he gave up 55 hits, walked 17 and struck out 92.

But those are just statistics. Gibson lived inside stark, defining moments.

In Game 7 of the 1964 World Series, he pitched a complete game to beat Mickey Mantle and the Yankees. He won the seventh game of the 1967 Series against Boston the same way. He allowed only three runs in three games in that Series.

Even when Gibson was injured, he did it in an Olympian way. He missed a third of that 1967 season with a broken leg caused by - now get this - being struck on July 16 by a Roberto Clemente line drive.

The rocket shot fractured and snapped Gibson's fibula just above his ankle, but he pitched to three more batters. He sat out for eight weeks.

Clemente, a career .317 hitter, batted .208 (26-for-125) with 32 strikeouts against Gibson.

In his book Stranger to the Game, Gibson said of Clemente, "I always threw at him. He swung way too hard against me, flinging himself at the ball and spinning around in the batter's box like he was on the playground or something. I had to demonstrate to him that I was no playground pitcher. To that end, I made a point of throwing at least one fastball in his direction nearly every time he came to the plate."

Gibson often threw at Clemente, though never hit him.

In his book, Gibson said he liked Clemente and learned to laugh at his theatrics.

"It was virtually impossible to ignore him because he was always talking," Gibson wrote. "Usually, it was to complain about how much his back or his shoulder or some other thing was hurting him. Then he would step in the batter's box and swing so hard that the flagsticks on top of the stadium would bend."

Gibson was known to be privately generous and even affable. But he had limits to his good spirits. As Hank Aaron said: "He hated you when he pitched."

McCarver, who often caught him and eventually became a close friend, once noted that he had approached the mound during a difficult inning to offer his advice but was told by Gibson to get back behind the plate. "The only thing you know about pitching is that you can't hit," McCarver said he was told.

"If you showed him up in any way on the field," Hall of Famer Frank Robinson told reporters, "you were going down."

I liked that about Gibson.

Where and when I grew up - Evansville, Indiana - all teen pitchers threw at enemy batters regularly, with Gibson's tacit moral approval.

If Gibson did it, we tried the same things for the same reasons. Players now will not admit the glee, but hitting an opponent to punish his previous sins is amazingly uplifting and satisfying.

It's righteous. That was Gibson's way. He never apologized.

"I was told by Hank Aaron never to mess with Bob Gibson," Dusty Baker once said. "I was told never to stare at him, or talk to him, or smile at him. And if he hit you with a pitch, I was told never to charge the mound because he would beat your ass."

Gibson also never forgot unpaid bills.

A year after Gaylord Perry no-hit the Cardinals and Gibson, they met again on July 25, 1969.

As baseball sabermetrician Bill James reported, "The game was 1-1 after one inning - and 1-1 after 12 innings, both starting pitchers still on the mound. Gaylord gave way to Frank Linzy in the 13th inning. The first batter he faced was Gibson, who immediately singled and came around to score."

That described a Major League game that is unlikely ever to be repeated in its totality. In fact, many of the games in which Gibson pitched are unique artifacts and not replaceable.

They don't play the game that way anymore.

Eras are defined by who and what populate the era, and set its standards. The Tyrannosaurus Rex and glib insurance salesmen did not occupy the same geological era.

The Bob Gibson Era officially is over. We do not resent its passing, because it remains a timeless, rare gift for those who experienced the glory, even as we listened on our transistor radios.

As for Chicago? Sorry you missed him, and most of that decade. He was better than everything that will arrive after him.

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David Rutter is the former publisher/editor of the Lake County News-Sun, and more importantly, the former author of the Beachwood's late, great "The Week In WTF" column. His most recent piece for us was Heed The Lessons Of The Wilmette Man Who Translated The Nazis To Death. You can also check him out at his Theeditor50's blog. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:00 AM | Permalink

How America Criminalizes Immigrants

On September 14, several legal advocacy groups filed a whistleblower complaint against ICE, accusing the agency of systematically administering forced hysterectomies to immigrant women at its detention facility in Ocilla, Georgia. While the details of this latest case are alarming, they are consonant with the United States' history of a violent and increasingly carceral immigration regime.

Despite the quintessential melting pot rhetoric, immigrants to the United States have long had to contend with xenophobia, racism, and economic exploitation. This legacy has been reanimated and exacerbated under the Trump administration, which has heightened immigrant communities' economic precarity and vulnerability to state violence. And this had been made worse still by the spread of COVID-19, which has hit immigrants, particularly detained immigrants, particularly hard.

To unpack some of this history, I interviewed Alina Das, law professor at New York University School of Law, co-director of the NYU Immigrant Rights Clinic, and author of No Justice In The Shadows: How America Criminalizes Immigrants. We discussed the development of American immigration law, how we got to our current detention-deportation system, and how to fight back.

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The following interview has been lightly edited for clarity and context.

Your book traces the racist logic that formed our first laws policing migration, which were created to capture and detain runaway slaves. Racism undergirds much of how our immigration laws have been bent and shaped until the present day, from the Chinese Exclusion Act to today's detention-deportation system. What were the motivations of the United States to establish and maintain a race-based immigration system?

When European nations first arrived, they had a very specific purpose to colonize and settle the land for themselves. That goal drove many of the laws that eventually became the foundations of immigration law. The laws that were then created were designed to encourage voluntary migration from propertied, white, Protestant men, and then to encourage forced migration both of enslaved people and indentured servants so they could provide labor for those who were colonizing the land.

Originally, there was never a sense that foreignness in and of itself was a problem. It was much more about the racial, religious, and gender prejudices that people carried over from Europe as they came here. And, of course, there was concern about people who were originally here - indigenous people, who were initially promised some measure of trade and cooperation, but were eventually forced out through violence.

The Constitution itself didn't say much about immigration, but it did ask Congress to come up with a uniform rule of naturalization. When they did that in 1790, they specifically had Black people in mind and limited citizenship to free white persons. Even when it came to birthright citizenship, which was understood to be part of the foundations of the Constitution, Black people were not considered [eligible] to receive citizenship at birth. So from the beginning, race had everything to do with who belonged in the United States and was a significant driver of these concepts of citizenship and immigration - much more than this idea that being born somewhere else made you suspect.

This fear of the freed Black person was a significant driver for local, state and federal laws that controlled movement. The Fugitive Slave Laws - which allowed people to be removed from free states and sent back to slave states - required Black people to carry their papers at all times in order to prove they had a certain kind of status that allowed them to be in a particular place. This regulation of movement and this idea of status crime developed in the context of controlling freed Black people. There was already fear of Black immigrants as early as the early 1800s, when slavery was abolished and Black people were free - this fear that the United States could become what became Haiti, where independence was achieved through a massive revolt of enslaved people in the early 1800s.

So states started to pass laws to prevent the migration of Black people into their states, because there was a fear that freed Black immigrants would encourage enslaved Black people in the United States to also revolt against their slave owners. These laws were designed to control the movement and settlement of Black people to prevent them from becoming part of white communities within the United States. This fear of Black migration and settlement, and the techniques and protocols used to control this, were then applied to other disfavored groups - the first among them being Chinese immigrants. When the 1875 Page Act, the first restrictive immigration law, was passed and enforced, it did not explicitly say they were targeting all Chinese people. Instead, it excluded prostitutes and convicts from the United States, which was a reflection of language that was used to describe Chinese women and men in California through state legislation. This laid the groundwork for the Chinese Exclusion Act and, later, national quotas and what we now know as Border Patrol.

This history cuts into the good versus bad immigrant binary that even immigrant advocates are often guilty of utilizing. In our desperation to get some sort of legislation for legalization passed, we've put forth the rhetoric that immigrants like the Dreamers, who are educated and pay their taxes, are worthy of U.S. citizenship, while "criminal aliens" aren't - and should be prosecuted and deported via a militarized enforcement mechanism. What are the ramifications of this narrative? What should we be demanding instead?

In terms of who is the desirable immigrant: The kind of principles we now encourage, such as diversity, are not actually reflected in immigration law and never have been. In part, that's because the era of Chinese exclusion was soon followed by the eugenicist era, where immigration law was structured around national origin quotas and very explicitly designed to keep out anyone other than people from certain European countries who were designated as "desirable" white immigrants. The definition of whiteness was debated in the law for a very long time and generally used to keep African, Asian, and other immigrants out of the United States.

That was until 1965, when civil rights protests and a fear of communism pushed the United States to finally get rid of what was seen as an openly racist immigration system. We got our system of family and employment-based immigration through the 1965 Immigration Act. We also got new caps on visas that were applied to people from Central and South America. Suddenly, we had a new way of talking about undesirable immigrants: people who overnight became undocumented became "illegal," simply because was no path for them to come to the United States.

At the same time, there was rising fear of racial mixing and Black migration from the South to the North. "Law and order" came into effect, as white communities responded to the civil rights movement by expanding policing, prosecution and prisons. Suddenly, anyone who is coming here unlawfully, or who arrives and develops a criminal record, is by definition a "bad" immigrant.

When you have these two phenomena happening at the same time, criminalization of immigration and escalation of racialized policing, we get to the point where we are today - where one in three Americans has had some sort of contact with the criminal legal system as an adult. So criminalization rhetoric ends up taking the place of language that was openly directed at Black, Asian, and Latinx immigrants before. That's partially why the good vs. bad immigrant myth is so problematic: It's rooted in restrictive immigration policy that has only allowed the worst aspects of our immigration enforcement system to grow.

What does it mean to abolish ICE and the criminalization of immigrants? How do we reimagine public safety?

When we tinker with immigration law and policy, and pick some groups to benefit and leave others vulnerable, the groups who remain vulnerable will still drive this massive deportation machinery. A call to abolish ICE is a recognition that anything less than foundational change will leave us with a system that will still target people because of their race, religion, and factors that we, at least in principle, believe should not be the basis of how you're treated under the law. So if you want to achieve change, you have to scrap the system we have and start over - and that's fundamentally what abolishing ICE calls for.

It's about reimagining what the immigration system could look like if we didn't have a massively funded federal agency of people with badges and guns who believe they are targeting people for the safety of the country, when in fact they are targeting our neighbors, our loved ones, people in our schools, workplaces, and communities. It's a fundamentally flawed agency driven by a mission that reflects many of the same underlying principles we saw when immigration law was openly and admittedly racist.

To give an example of tinkering, Secure Communities was a pilot project under the George W. Bush administration that would take people's fingerprints if you were arrested through interaction with local law enforcement. Those fingerprints would then be sent to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), allowing DHS to go after what the Bush administration described as "the worst of the worst" and ensure that those people were deported. Many of the people who, at the time, wanted federal agencies and local police to cooperate with each other, thought that this was the way to solve terrorism and keep people protected. That program started at the end of the Bush administration.

Then comes President Barack Obama. Here you have a man who is very clear that he cares deeply about immigrant communities, who ran a pro-immigrant platform - but also felt he needed to achieve immigration reform by proving his administration was going to be tough on "bad immigrants." So President Obama took Secure Communities, expanded it, and eventually required it across the United States, despite the fact that many cities and states made it clear that they did not want to participate. They saw that it was becoming a funnel and drag net for deportation and said they wouldn't voluntarily implement Secure Communities in their jurisdictions.

The Obama administration pushed it through despite this criticism. It defended Secure Communities by repeating the lines of the Bush administration, stating that this is a program that goes after the "worst of the worst." It accepted the idea that having contact with the police is a sign that you're a bad person, even though having contact with the police is often more indicative of the color of your skin, the neighborhood you live in, and your resources. But even knowing that, this administration championed Secure Communities. As a result, interior enforcement - this idea of deporting people inside the United States - skyrocketed under the Obama administration.

It was only very late in his second term that he started trying to make piecemeal reforms to curb that practice, because data showed that the vast majority of people who were being targeted through this program were people with very minor interactions with law enforcement: traffic stops, drug possession, the kinds of offenses that certainly take place in many wealthy white communities, but aren't deemed worthy of this kind of punishment.

At some point, Obama tried to make changes. But it wasn't abolition, he didn't withdraw the Secure Communities Program - he tinkered with it, and, as a result, it continued to funnel tens of thousands of people into the deportation machine. This led to, or at least led a significant part to, the Obama administration forcibly deporting more people than any other administration before him, and the growth of deportation machinery that the Trump administration was able to capture and expand even further.

So, this example of Secure Communities is a perfect example of why, when you structure policy around this idea that there are good immigrants who deserve a path to citizenship and bad immigrants who deserve deportation, it's that group of bad immigrants that will always expand and justify deportation machinery - which will in turn harm countless numbers of people. People with the most serious convictions who are picked up through this program are, by definition, people who have already served their time in the community, and still have family members who love them.

My second example relates to COVID-19. As COVID-19 started spreading throughout the United States, we saw very different reactions coming from DHS compared to other agencies at both the federal and state levels where people were confined. Under the last several administrations, tens of thousands of people have been locked up in immigration jails every day, facing a deportation process in those jails and prisons. They are extremely vulnerable because like any jail or prison, these are in closed, confined spaces that are not designed to provide a humane environment for people even in the best of circumstances.

Medical professionals sounded the alarm, making it clear that there would be significant risk of exponential growth of COVID-19 spread and death unless people were released. In this context, we saw many states and localities releasing people from jails and prisons - not at the rate the community demanded, but certainly adopting policies pretty early on. In contrast, ICE, which is in charge of the majority of immigration detention centers, maintained steadfastly that they would not release anyone. They insisted on not releasing people even as they were fighting lawsuits and courts were forcing them to adopt somewhat different policies. They have continued to hold people in their facilities and have prevented them from being released. Their justification for doing so is "public safety."

ICE claims that, unlike all the other jails and prisons in this country, they have to keep people in their jails and prisons because they are a threat to public safety. I represent many people who have sought their release from immigration jail, and in every single case, ICE says no and fights it in court, claiming our client is a safety risk. But ICE is not the only one to blame for that: In many of the calls that medical professionals and immigration advocacy organizations have made for ICE to change its policies, they too have adopted that language, asking ICE to release everyone who's not a threat to public safety.

I think that's part of the reason why dividing immigrants into good and bad, deserving and undeserving, lets agencies like ICE, Border Patrol, and others get away with constantly expanding their budgets, developing increasingly violent and militarized tactics, and treating immigrant communities like they are the enemy as opposed to a group of people who are no different from anyone else living in this country, other than the fact that they lack a piece of paper.

Back in July, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents were deployed to Portland, Oregon to counter Black Lives Matter protests. In your book, you say, "American policy routinely conflates immigration, public safety, and national security." To see federal officers kidnap people off the street is terrifying, but for immigrants, being surveilled, stalked, and kidnapped off the street has been a default reality. How do CBP actions at Portland reflect this history?

The origins of Border Patrol go back to the period of U.S. history when we were crafting immigration law through an openly eugenicist frame - that America was for white people and that immigration law should be written in a way that preserved whiteness. As the national origins quotas were being written in the 1920s, a compromise was reached to exclude some countries in the Western Hemisphere - namely, Mexico and Central American countries - from the quotas in order for them to come to the United States and work in agriculture. The same year the National Origins Quotas Act went into effect in 1924, Border Patrol was created to police Mexican immigrants who were not actually coming to do farmwork or didn't have the proper paperwork, even though they were exempt from the visas.

Nativists were never satisfied with Mexicans being exempt from visas. By 1929, we had the first illegal entry and reentry law on the books, a tool to control Mexican immigrants in particular. The very origins of Border Patrol were to police our borders to preserve white supremacist immigration law and control Mexican migration by allowing Mexican migrants to enter the United States only under certain circumstances, and deport them when they were no longer exploitable.

Since then, Border Patrol has only grown. It is a deeply politicized agency that has used public relations campaigns to actively portray immigrants as violent and dangerous in order to secure more funding and become more militarized. It has participated in numerous murders on both sides of the border, killing even children south of the border. Communities in border towns have been complaining about the violence they've been experiencing at the hands of Border Patrol for years, and the lack of accountability. The history of violence is well-documented but not well publicized because of their ability to operate in the shadows of the border.

But when those same forces are unleashed in a primarily white community like Portland, you see a very different reaction. People are opening their eyes to what it looks and feels like to have officers who are heavily clad in militarized gear, toting guns, disappearing people into vans. Those scenes happen every day in border towns, but we don't see it on the nightly news. We don't see the spectacle of violence. It's important for the country to be aware that this is what CBP is. Hopefully, there will come a historical reckoning that Border Patrol, which is a subcomponent of CBP, has done what it was designed to do.

In terms of using these powers to repress political speech, that's another example of how what we're seeing in Portland is really just the latest example of a trend where immigrants were the first targets. Fairly soon after President Trump came into office, the first people targeted were immigrant activists. Across the country, immigrant activists have been surveilled and deported to repress their free speech. It was only a matter of time before this expanded toward U.S. citizens as well. It started with immigrant rights activists who were immigrants themselves, then moved to immigration advocacy groups affiliated with these issues, including U.S. citizens who are attorneys, journalists, clergy. No More Deaths, for example, was federally prosecuted for providing humanitarian aid for immigrants. This all culminates in what we saw in Portland, with a crackdown against mostly U.S. citizens protesting the murders of Black people.

These agencies have been told and understand that their job is to quell dissent, and that no one will hold them accountable. For the most part, they have not been held accountable for what they did to immigrants, so turning that power against U.S. citizens is just one link in the chain. That's why they are so incredibly dangerous, and Congress has a lot of work to do to ensure that anyone who is targeted by these agencies has recourse to share their stories and stand up for themselves through the judicial process. One of the reasons most Americans weren't aware of what was happening to other activists and immigrants exercising their freedom of speech was because we have immigration laws that cut many people out of the judicial process, preventing people from going to court and making it easy for people to literally be disappeared in the middle of the night without anyone knowing that they were targeted or why. We shouldn't have agencies that can do whatever they want to people and provide whatever justification they want in order to keep their coffers full and their agents on the streets.

As a law professor, scholar, and movement lawyer, how do you see yourself in the broader immigrant rights movement?

As a professor, I do this work in the context of a law school clinic where I'm working with law students who are learning about the ins and outs of immigration law and immigrant rights in the legal sphere for the first time. Doing this as a movement lawyer is incredibly important to me because I've witnessed the way that the law is written specifically to oppress immigrants. The law is not written to be a tool for social change; it's written to be a tool for oppression and has never fully shaken its white supremacist origins.

Our struggle as lawyers is to take the law back for immigrant communities and use it as a tool for our own vision of justice, while recognizing that truly fundamental transformative change is not going to come from the courtroom - it's going to come on the streets. We've seen that time and time again in our own work, where we will fight a battle to free someone from immigration jail - but it's when people show up at the courthouse or at City Hall demanding change that the wheels of justice actually start to turn. That's when politicians, legislative bodies, and even the courts listen - not to the arguments we made in court, but to the voices of people on the street.

Law students should learn that you need to do many different things as a lawyer and recognize that we have a small place in an overall movement. Our job is to listen to those on the ground who are directly impacted by the laws we're trying to fight and change. I've worked with so many people who've experienced jail and prison either by way of the criminal legal system or the immigration system. Jails and prisons are fundamentally harmful. They don't solve problems; they produce problems. They don't resolve harm; they create harm. As a society, we in 2020 can find better ways to address the problems we face than by locking our loved ones away in a cage. COVID-19 could have been an opportunity for our jails and prisons to be emptied, for us to show as a society that we value the lives of people, all people, in our community over whatever concerns that are driving them into jails and prisons in the first place. But we see, through the failure to exercise clemency and reform - and, in the immigration space, failures to exercise discretion to release through parole and bond - that it is so difficult to achieve change and free people within the system.

In response to COVID-19, we have been working very hard to convince a federal court to release our clients at Elizabeth Detention Center or, at minimum, give them an opportunity to be heard about why they should be released. The most beautiful thing about this work is that we do it in solidarity and in concert with organizing on the ground. People have staged protests and have been calling out the horrors of Elizabeth Detention Center for years. It opened over 25 years ago, and within its first year, immigrants within the facility led an uprising to protest their conditions there. They have continued to call out the terrible medical care they've received during the pandemic; they have led hunger strikes and protests both inside and outside of the facility. So it's really a testament to organizing that the development corporation that owns the property that Elizabeth Detention Center is on actually agreed to the demands of protesters and said they would no longer be in relationship with Core Civic, and would be ending their lease as soon as they were able to.

The demands on the streets led to a different level of accountability than the law provides. And it's because of long-term, deeply dedicated organizing by people who've experienced detention and deportation, and who demand nothing less than transformational change. The most transformative changes have come - and will come - from the power of the people collectively demanding the justice they envision for their communities.

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Previously:

* Tent City For Migrant Kids Shrouded In Secrecy.

* Immigration Sins Of The Past And The Forced Separation Of Families.

* Law And Farce: The Forced Separation Of Families.

* Jennings v. Rodriguez And The Forced Separation Of Families.

* Forced Separation Of Families & Forced To-Term Pregnancies.

* Here's A List Of Organizations That Are Mobilizing To Help Immigrant Children Separated From Their Families.

* Separated Migrant Children Are Headed Toward Shelters With A History Of Abuse And Neglect.

* The Shelter For Immigrant Children That Melania Trump Visited Has A History Of Violations.

* U.S. Turned Away Thousands Of Haitian Asylum-Seekers And Detained Hundreds More In Horrific Conditions In The '90s.

* Brazilian Asylum Seeker Released After 11 Months In Detention; Grandson Had Been Held In Chicago.

* Immigrant Infants Too Young To Talk Called Into Court To Defend Themselves.

* E-Mails Show Trump Administration Knew Migrant Children Would Suffer Mental Problems Once Separated From Their Families At The Border. Then They Ramped Up The Practice.

* The Tornillo Boondoggle.

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See also:

* ProPublica: A Defendant Shows Up in Immigration Court by Himself. He's 6.

* The New York Times: The Price Tag Of Migrant Family Separation: $80 Million And Rising.

* 60 Minutes: The Chaos Behind Donald Trump's Policy Of Family Separation At The Border.

* Trump Lying About The 60 Minutes Report.

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Plus:

* Immigration Raids Send Chill Through Little Village.

* This Is What A Deportation Raid Is Like.

* Illinois Immigrant, Labor, Legal Leaders Condemn ICE Raids.

* Chicago Activists Tell Undocumented Immigrants Not To Open Their Doors.

* A Shameful Round-Up Of Refugees.

* U.S. Government Deporting Central American Migrants To Their Deaths.

* Tell President Obama To Stop Deporting Refugees.

* Immigrants Arrested In U.S. Raids Say They Were Misled On Right To Counsel.

* Obama Planning Huge Deportation Sweep Of Immigrant Families.

* Immigrants Deported Under Obama Share Stories Of Terror And Rights Violations.

* Chicago Family Sues ICE & City Over Raid, Gang Database.

* Immigrants In Detention Centers Are Often Hundreds Of Miles From Legal Help.

* Chicago And The Deportation Machine.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:57 AM | Permalink

The Chicago Immigrant Orchestra

Chicago's World Music Festival went virtual in September due to COVID-19.

The final installment was recorded at the Epiphany Center for the Arts on September 27. Here it is, with description heisted from the City of Chicago.

"The Chicago Immigrant Orchestra returns with a new vision under the direction of Fareed Haque and Wanees Zarour as a 12-piece ensemble of musicians from Chicago's diverse immigrant community and representing music traditions from all over the world.

"Artists including Sophia Uddin (violin), Fareed Haque (guitar, keys, percussion), Hitesh Master (North Indian vocals), Juan Pastor (Latin percussion), Paul Cotton (African percussion), Richard Christian (tabla/dhol), Sam Tahiri (Persian vocals), Saraswathi Ranganathan (South Indian veena), Tamir Hargana (throat singer / horsehair fiddle), Tzu-Tzen Wu (Chinese ruan) Ugochi (Nigerian vocals), and Wanees Zarour (oud, buzuq, percussion)."


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:14 AM | Permalink

The Final Confession Of A Chicago Tour Guide

My final confession is this: There isn't a single story in this series that I have not, at one time or another, told to my customers. Why? Because I enjoyed it? No. "Because Poor Training."

This includes documented cases where the tour company chooses to train new docents into telling tall tales "Because Ticket Sales." Real News: Sometimes customers actually complain when you don't sling the shit. They know Mrs. O'Leary's cow is "bullshit" (see what I did there?!), they just want to hear it anyway.

It all comes down to training. And leadership.

At one time in the mid-Aughts, I was working for a now-defunct Hop On-Hop Off downtown bus tour (tours where you can hop off at any of a set of tourist/shopping destinations, then hop back on and back around to where you started) for a company operating under an internationally recognized brand.

Like: Ever been to a particularly shitty McDonald's?

When the local owners leasing the brand just want the money and are willing to hurt the brand image, this is the result. I can attest personally that these owners did not give a flying fuck about you once they got your dollar, and the backlog of complaints made to the Chicago branch of the Illinois Office for Tourism for those years will back that up.

This company's overall service was so bad, in fact, that I realized to merely save my skin I had to give the best tour possible or quit. I chose the former. I took responsibility for training myself properly and set about to do so. And over time, that became easier to do "Because The Internet."

The result: A decade later, and for the last three consecutive years, companies I work for have been awarded the highest accolades by TripAdvisor, arguably the leading trade publication in the industry. Shoreline Sightseeing's Architectural River Cruise was named Most Popular Tour in the U.S. & 2nd only to the Vatican Worldwide for two years straight, 2018-19, and this year Inside Chicago Walking Tours was named Customer's Choice for 2020 and ranked in the Top 10% of Attractions Worldwide.

Even as Navy Pier closed for the season on September 8th, most of the architectural tour boat cruises will remain in operation for as long as you will show up, and, this year, will likely cater mostly to local Stay-cationers. This Means You!

Of course, not every guide at every company is going to appeal to your taste, but I have seen that an emphasis on excellence in training has resulted in excellence in service overall at companies where the Real News prevails over the Fake. And you can always find them in advance with a little digital legwork.

So in the end, let me say: Forgive me my sins, look for the best and don't take any wooden nickels.


Previously:
* Confessions Of A Tour Guide Part 1: Busting The Myths Of Chicago Architecture.

* Confessions Of A Chicago Tour Guide Part 2: Myths Of The Mob.

* Confessions Of A Chicago Tour Guide Part 3: The Post Office's Gyro Copters, Marina City's Flying Cars & Navy Pier's Planes.

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See also:

* Kogan: Poet J.J. Tindall Finds Freedom In Guiding Boat Tours.

* J.J. Tindall's Chicagoetry.

* Tindall: Ballots From The Dead.

* Tindall Music.

* Tindall: Interpretive Jazz Dance 1: The Match Game Theme.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:09 AM | Permalink

October 4, 2020

Law & Order | Trump Let MBS Get Away With Murdering Jamal Khashoggi

Agents of Saudi Arabia's despotic government brutally murdered Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi on October 2, 2018 on direct orders from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS).

Eight Saudi men have been convicted of Khashoggi's murder in a Saudi court in what the Washington Post characterized as sham trials with no transparency. The higher-ups who ordered the murder, including MBS, continue to escape responsibility.

Khashoggi's assassination and dismemberment was so horrific and cold-blooded that it sparked worldwide public outrage. President Trump, however, stood by MBS, bragging to journalist Bob Woodward that he saved the prince's "ass" and got "Congress to leave him alone."

MBS's ascent to dictatorial power, soon after his elderly father King Salman became king in January 2015, was sold to the world as ushering in a new era of reform, but has in reality been characterized by violent, ruthless repression. The number of executions has doubled, from 423 executions between 2009 and 2014 to more than 800 since January 2015.

They include the mass execution of 37 people on April 23, 2019, mostly for taking part in peaceful Arab Spring protests in 2011-12. These protests took place in Shiite areas where people face systemic discrimination in the majority Sunni kingdom. At least three of those executed were minors when they were sentenced, and one was a student arrested at the airport on his way to attend Western Michigan University. Many of the victims' families have said that they were convicted based on forced confessions extracted by torture, and two victims' beheaded corpses were put on public display.

Under MBS, all dissent has been crushed. In the last two years, all of Saudi Arabia's independent human rights defenders have been imprisoned, threatened into silence, or have fled the country. This includes women's rights activists such as Loujain al-Hathoul, who opposed the ban on women drivers. Despite some openings for women under MBS, including the right to drive, Saudi women remain subject to discrimination in law and practice, with laws that ensure they are subordinate citizens to men, particularly in relation to family matters such as marriage, divorce, child custody and inheritance.

The Trump administration has never challenged Saudi Arabia's internal repression, and worse yet, it has played a vital role in the brutal Saudi-led war on neighboring Yemen. After Yemeni president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi failed to leave office at the end of his two-year term as the head of a transitional government, or to fulfill his mandate to draw up a new constitution and hold a new election, the Houthi rebel movement invaded the capital, Sana'a, in 2014, placed him under house arrest and demanded that he do his job.

Hadi instead resigned, fled to Saudi Arabia and conspired with MBS and the Saudis to launch a war to try to restore him to power. The United States has provided in-air refueling, intelligence and planning for Saudi and Emirati air strikes and has raked in over $100 billion in arms sales. While U.S. support for the Saudi war began under President Obama, Trump has provided unconditional support as the horrors of this war have shocked the entire world.

According to the Yemen Data Project, at least 30% of U.S.-supported airstrikes on Yemen have hit civilian targets, including hospitals, health clinics, schools, marketplaces, civilian infrastructure, and a particularly horrific airstrike on a school bus that killed 40 children and 11 adults.

After five years, this brutal war has succeeded only in wreaking mass devastation and chaos, with dozens of children dying every day from starvation, malnutrition and preventable diseases, all now compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Belated congressional efforts to end U.S. support for the war, including the passage of a War Powers bill in March 2019 and a bill to suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia that July, have been vetoed when they reached Trump's desk.

The U.S. alliance with the Saudis certainly predates Trump, going back to the discovery of oil in the 1930s. While it's traditional role as an oil supplier is no longer vital to the U.S. economy, Saudi Arabia has become one of the largest purchasers of U.S. weapons, a major investor in U.S. businesses and an ally against Iran. After the failed U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. began grooming Saudi Arabia to play a leading geopolitical and military role, alongside Israel, in a new U.S.-led alliance to counter the growing influence of Iran, Russia and China in the Middle East.

The war on Yemen was the first test of Saudi Arabia's role as a leading U.S. military ally, and it exposed both the practical and moral bankruptcy of this policy, unleashing another endless war and the world's worst humanitarian crisis in one of the poorest countries on Earth. MBS's assassination of Jamal Khashoggi came at a critical moment in the unraveling of this doomed strategy, laying bare the sheer insanity of basing America's Middle East policy for the 21st century on an alliance with a neo-feudal monarchy sustained by murder and repression.

Obama tried to change tack towards the end of his administration, putting a hold on the sale of munitions to Saudi Arabia and signing a nuclear deal with Iran. Trump reversed both these policies, and continued to treat Saudi Arabia as a critical ally, even as the world recoiled in horror at Khashoggi's assassination.

While Saudi abuses have not diminished the Trump administration's unconditional support, they have ignited global opposition. In an exciting new development, exiled Saudi activists have formed a political party, the National Assembly Party or NAAS, calling for democracy and respect for human rights in the kingdom. In its inaugural statement, the party laid out a vision for Saudi Arabia in which all citizens are equal under the law and a fully elected parliament has legislative and oversight powers over the state's executive institutions. The founding document was signed by several prominent Saudi activists in exile, including London-based professor Madawi al-Rasheed; Abdullah Alaoudh, a Saudi academic who is also the son of jailed Islamic scholar Salman al-Awda; and Shia activist Ahmed al-Mshikhs.

Another new initiative, timed for the second anniversary of Khashoggi's murder, is the launch of Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), an organization conceived by Khashoggi several months before his murder. DAWN will promote democracy and support political exiles across the Middle East, in keeping with the vision of its martyred founder.

Progressive groups in the United States continue to oppose U.S. support for Saudi Arabia's Yemen war and to push USAID to restore direct humanitarian aid that was slashed to Houthi-controlled parts of Yemen in 2020 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. European activists have launched successful campaigns to stop weapons sales to Saudi Arabia in several countries.

These past two years have also seen activists organizing boycotts of Saudi events. Pre-COVID, when the kingdom opened up to musical extravaganzas, groups such as CODEPINK and Human Rights Foundation pressured entertainers like Nicki Minaj to cancel appearances. Minaj put out a statement saying, "It is important for me to make clear my support for the rights of women, the LGBTQ community and freedom of expression." Meghan MacLaren, the U.K.'s top woman golfer, withdrew from a lucrative new golf tournament in Saudi Arabia, citing reports by Amnesty International and saying she cannot take part in "sportwashing" Saudi human rights abuses.

A new group called Freedom Forward, which seeks to sever the U.S.-Saudi alliance, has focused on the upcoming G20 in Riyadh, which is taking place virtually in November, urging invitees to refuse to participate. The campaign has successfully lobbied the mayors of several major cities, including New York City, Los Angeles, Paris and London, to boycott the event, along with notables invited to side events for women and global thinkers.

As we mark two years since Jamal Khashoggi's murder, we may also soon be marking the end of the Trump administration. While it is hard to take Joe Biden on his word that he would not sell more weapons to the Saudis and would make them "pay the price" for killing Khashoggi, it is good to hear a presidential candidate admit that there is "very little social redeeming value in the present government in Saudi Arabia" and call it a "pariah state." Perhaps with enough pressure from below, a new administration could start the process of disentangling the U.S. from the deadly embrace of the Saudi dictatorship.

But as long as U.S. leaders continue to coddle the Saudis, it's difficult not to ask who is more evil - the maniacal Saudi crown prince responsible for Khashoggi's murder and the slaughter of more than a hundred thousand Yemenis, or the mendacious Western governments and businesspeople who continue to support and profit from his crimes?

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Previously: Ignoring U.S. War Crimes In Yemen.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:13 AM | Permalink

October 3, 2020

Brushing Scam

Have you received a package in the mail, but didn't order anything? Watch this video and visit our website to learn about brushing scams before you get taken.


*

We all love surprises and gifts, but when these seemingly harmless free items come from a company or retailer, they may come with a higher cost than you realize.

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Previously:

* Vanishing Vending Machines.

* Item: Art Fraud Bust.

* Janene Gordon, Postal Inspector.

* Happy Birthday, U.S. Postal Inspection Service!

* U.S. Postal Inspection Service 2018 In Review.

* Mailbox Fishing.

* History Of The U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

* Work-At-Home Reshipping Scam.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:34 PM | Permalink

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #324: The Core Is Rotten

Theo can build a team, but he can't really hold a team. Plus: Rickey Rentamanager's Lease Will Be Renewed; Central Sucking Time; Nick McCown; Red Stars & Fire.

Beachwood Radio Network · The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #324: Rotten To The Core

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SHOW NOTES

* 324.

:50: Cubs Stinks.

* Coffman's plea to Theo: "Get a grip."

* Kyle Schwarber More Ruth Than Babe.

* Javy Baez: MVP to LVP.

18:40: Rickey Rentamanager's Lease Will Be Renewed.

* Wallenstein: They Go, He Goes.

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25:13: Central Sucking Time.

*

Bonus tweet:

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31:38: Nick McCown.

* Tweeting Foles.

* Tarik Cohen Moan.

* Kyle Fuller Man.

* Cam's COVID.

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50:46: Red Stars & Fire.

* An abundance of cautious optimism.

And with that, the dramatic hour has come to a close.

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For archives and other Beachwood shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:41 PM | Permalink

October 2, 2020

They Go, He Goes

Take the mountains and mountains of data. Celebrate the sabermathematicians all you want. Let your infielders shift on every pitch if that's your fancy. However, no matter how you manipulate all the bits, bytes and algorithms, there's one rule in baseball that rises above all else: Throw strikes!

You needn't look further than Thursday's painful White Sox elimination game in Oakland under the cloudless California sky for the prime example. For the uninformed, there is no defense when your pitchers walk guys. There is zero possibility of retiring a hitter if four pitches wide of the strike zone are delivered. There are no walks in tee-ball, no doubt giving the 6-year-olds a false sense of security, but once pitchers begin throwing the ball toward the plate, the game becomes a different proposition.

And nine White Sox pitchers in the 6-4 debacle provided all the proof required. They walked a gut-wrenching nine batters while their teammates idled helplessly behind them. Three of the nine scored while two other walks forced in the deciding runs in a 27-minute bottom of the fourth inning.

One might argue that the Sox still could have salvaged the game and moved on to face Houston in the next round if only Adam Engel hadn't grounded out with the bases loaded in the top of the seventh with two outs. Or if MVP frontrunner José Abreu hadn't hit into a double-play an inning later with two men on base. Certainly the Sox had their chances, but another rule of the game is that even the best hitters make outs approximately seven out of 10 times. The advantage goes to the pitchers, and on Thursday the Sox' pitching failed when it mattered most.

Of course, a major part of the problem is that after Lucas Giolito, who pitched brilliantly on Tuesday in the team's 4-1 victory, and Dallas Keuchel, who wasn't brilliant on Wednesday, manager Rickey Renteria's choices were about as promising as a Chicago election.

Managing a big league team is multifaceted, but handling the bullpen is right at the top of the list, and Renteria left himself wide open to criticism with his moves in this deciding game. Renteria already served as a target for White Sox Twitter Nation as the team crumbled at the end of the regular season, falling from a top seed to No. 7.

Renteria gave the starting nod to Dane Dunning, a veteran of just 34 major league innings in this, his rookie year. Dunning retired two of the first four hitters he faced before Renteria yanked him in favor of hard-throwing Garrett Crochet, a late-season addition who pitched six scoreless innings in recent weeks, attracting widespread notoriety with his three-digit fastball.

Crochet got two strikeouts but had to leave the game with "forearm tightness" in the top of the second. We can only hope that the injury is not serious, but we have to look no further than Michael Kopech to shudder at the prospects for the talented Crochet.

Should Renteria have remained calm and stayed with Dunning? Perhaps. A's starter Mike Fiers wasn't fooling anyone in the top of the first as Tim Anderson singled in front of an Abreu double, sending Anderson to third. Yoan Moncada lined out hard to end the inning, but Fiers appeared vulnerable. And yet, with Renteria's moves, the Sox already had used two pitchers with just one out in the second inning.

Aaron Bummer came next, and he did alright until Rickey got antsy again in the third frame when two men reached with one out. Codi Heuer was summoned to retire the side with the bases loaded as the Sox led 3-0.

But then Heuer ran into trouble in the fateful fourth as catcher Sean Murphy hit a two-run homer. However, the Sox still led by a run, and Heuer simply made a mistake. It was the walk in front of Murphy's blast that truly hurt.

Once again, Renteria easily could be second-guessed, bringing in seldom-used and often-injured Carlos Rodon, who faced three batters with the following results: walk, double, intentional walk. Oh boy, disaster loomed as poor Matt Foster was called on next. The pressure proved too great as Foster walked in a pair of runs.

Pitching in a playoff win-or-go-home contest is not for the faint of heart. All the jokers sitting at home with their fingers on their phones ready to critique any misplay have little idea or experience what Heuer, Foster and their pals were encountering. Of the Sox' nine pitchers used, not one had ever thrown a pitch in a post-season game. This was all new. Adrenalin was pumping. Temperatures were rising. Foster had a breakout rookie season. He walked an acceptable nine hitters in almost 29 innings, yet the first two hitters he faced with the bases loaded - thanks to the intentional walk issued to Chad Pinder of all people - never had to swing the bat.

Meanwhile, A's manager Bob Melvin used eight pitchers, six of whom had playoff experience. Not until the seventh inning did they walk anyone, ending the game issuing three free passes. I'm uncertain how the saber folks would measure that one. Maybe there's some acronym for adrenaline count.

And so we enter the offseason with a number of question marks for 2021, not the least of which is whether the nation's health crisis will permit a full schedule. General manager Rick Hahn has no control over that metric, but he does have to make a decision whether to bring back Renteria and some or all of his coaches.

The facts include that, as expected, Renteria's record was poor the past three years managing a ragtag collection of players. This abbreviated season, with a much improved cast, the team finished 10 games over .500. That also is not surprising. However, the skipper did not help his prospects Thursday, nor does the closing swoon (nine losses in the season's final 12 games) boost his prospects.

I don't have strong feelings about Renteria's future. If Hahn looks elsewhere, I'll be eager to see how the new guy does. If Rickey returns, I'll expect to see even more progress. If that doesn't happen by, say, mid-May, I figure Hahn might make a change. I do think that Don Cooper's 18-year tenure as pitching coach has run its course. I'm in favor of the pitchers listening to a different voice and philosophy.

What we do know is that talented players make managers successful.

Casey Stengel managed 25 years, including 12 with the Yankees in which he won 10 American League pennants and seven World Series. However, for the other 13 managerial seasons, his teams won less than 40 percent of their games. Joe Torre also managed the Yankees for a dozen seasons (1996-2007), guiding the New Yorkers to six pennants and four World Series titles while posting a .607 winning percentage. Torre had jobs for another 14 years with the Mets, Braves, Cardinals and Dodgers where his clubs finished above .500 just half that time. Not until he closed his career in Los Angeles for three seasons did any of his teams other than the Yankees qualify for post-season play.

Looking to another Chicago team, the Bulls, Jerry Krause replaced Doug Collins as coach with Phil Jackson in 1989, saying that Collins was the wrong guy to take the team to the "next level." My guess is if Renteria goes, the same mantra will be repeated.

Collins had just led the team to the Eastern Conference Finals, and while the Bulls won eight more games in Jackson's first season, they also went no farther in the playoffs, losing to Detroit in the conference finals.

Once Krause got Michael Jordan a little more support, the championships flowed, but keep in mind that they didn't win one until Jordan's seventh season.

If Hahn does make a managerial change, he no doubt will move quickly before people like A.J. Hinch, Alex Cora and respected bench coaches are hired elsewhere.

Madrigal Is Underappreciated
Rookie second baseman Nick Madrigal seems to take an inordinate amount of heat from Sox tweeters. He had a tough game on Wednesday, being charged with two errors and a baserunning gaffe. He couldn't make a play on a grounder off the bat of Matt Olson with the bases loaded and two outs in the first inning, giving the A's an early 2-0 lead.

Facing left-handed hitters, Madrigal almost always is positioned as a short rightfielder. On Olson's smash, the ball caromed off the cut of the outfield grass, taking an unusual high hop. Madrigal usually can make the play, but had there been no shift, he would have fielded the ball off the infield dirt before it reached the outfield grass. I'm not against the shifts. Many balls hit up the middle that would have been hits 30 years ago, are now routinely fielded for outs. Nevertheless, the shifts are not always advantageous.

In addition, because Madrigal doesn't hit for power, his numbers aren't fully appreciated. In 109 plate appearances this season he hit .340, and added three more hits in the Oakland series. Of his total of 38 hits, 35 were singles. However, he's a terrific contact hitter - only seven strikeouts this season - and his lack of power complements an offense that still led the American League in home runs. The Sox don't need more homers; they need fewer strikeouts, and Madrigal should have a long career on the South Side.

Catcher's Interference
A play in the Oakland fifth Thursday when the A's scored the two deciding runs involved catcher's interference, contributing to the final outcome. With Evan Marshall pitching, Sean Murphy walked after two outs. Then Tommy La Stella reached when Yasmani Grandal's glove came into contact with La Stella's bat, putting two men on. Both Murphy and La Stella eventually scored, giving the A's a 6-4 lead and completing the scoring for the day.

Years ago, catchers kept their bare hand behind their glove with their thumb folded into their palm for protection. Then catchers like Johnny Bench and others went to a one-hand technique, even putting their bare hand behind their back with no one on base. This tended to extend their glove arm as their elbows came away from their bodies.

Today, with so much emphasis on pitch framing, catchers are moving their gloves on almost every pitch. Too often they're straightening their left arm to receive the ball in order to pull it into the strike zone, hence we've had more catcher's interference calls within memory.

Grandal reportedly is one of the best at framing, and he also threw out almost half of would-be basestealers this season. But his eagerness to get a strike for his pitcher turned out to be costly.

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Former Bill Veeck bar buddy Roger Wallenstein is our White Sox correspondent. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:43 PM | Permalink

MUSIC - School Of Rock Realizes How White It Is.
TV - A Plea To Matt Nagy.
POLITICS - Social Media Platforms Remove War Crimes Evidence.
SPORTS - Fire Matt Nagy.

BOOKS - Maps For Migrants And Ghosts.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Tupperware In Space.


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